Tom Parker describes the last few years of his life as tough.
"I was short of breath, tightness in the chest, pale, could hardly walk," says Parker.
Ron Faircloth can relate to that. He could only walk about 300 steps day.
Even a quick trip to the store was a challenge.
"The milk was at the back of the store. I would think, 'Well, this is going to be almost 400 paces for sure' and so I'm like, 'Oh no,'" says Faircloth.
Both men suffered from chronic total occlusion, complete blockage of an artery in the heart.
Dr. Amir Haghighat says "In the past, we as cardiologists looked at this as a challenge that was very difficult to overcome. We didn't have tools or techniques to open it enough. Often we gave the patients medicines or just said get used to living with that level of shortness of breath."
Ignoring the condition presents other problems.
Another local cardiologist Dr. Samir Patel says "A chronic occlusion, with time, scars the artery down, So it makes it much more difficult to re-open."
But Bay Medical Sacred Heart now has new minimally invasive technology, called the cross boss catheter, to clear the blockages.
Dr. Haghighat says this new technology allows them to get across blockages that have been occluded for some time, by going through a second layer and then entering the true vessel.
The surgeon threads the Cross Boss through arteries up both sides of the groin.
When it reaches the blockage, the doctor rotates the blunt tip of the catheter, a grooved metal cord that looks like a miniature plumber's snake.
It cuts through a relatively soft blockage, and goes around those that are too solid, like concrete, moving into the second layer of the artery, without perforating the blood vessel.
"The 7 patients that we've done so far, they've had agina or chest pain that have required numerous nitroglycerin pills prior to the procedure. Once these vessels are open they've have improved quality of life," says Dr. Patel.
Parker has surgery in July and no longer takes nitroglycerin.
He says he has more energy, he can walk and do things he couldn't before.
Faircloth has his surgery in April.
Earlier this year he could only walk 300 steps, now he's at 1500 to 1800 and recently reached 2000.
Bay Medical Sacred Heart is one of only a few hospitals selected to train with this new technique.