Chronic Total Occlusion (CTO)

What is chronic total occlusion (CTO)? 

Chronic total occlusion (CTO) is complete blockage of a coronary artery inside and around the heart muscle. When an artery that supplies blood to the heart is completely blocked by plaque, the heart does not receive the oxygen and nutrients it needs to function. When the heart does not receive blood and cannot do its job, all other organs in the body are affected.  

What are the symptoms of CTO? 

  • Chest pain and discomfort 
  • Shortness of breath  
  • Ongoing fatigue 

What are the risk factors for CTO? 

  • Diagnosis of coronary artery disease or a previous heart attack  
  • Sedentary lifestyle 
  • High blood pressure  
  • Smoking 
  • Diabetes 
  • Obesity 
  • Family history of coronary artery disease 
  • Previous bypass surgery

Percutaneous treatment options

Historically, the only treatment option for CTO was surgery due to the high complexity of the disease. With the advent of new technologies, percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) is now a treatment option that can restore blood flow for CTO patients. This complex procedure uses advanced techniques to attack the occlusion from both sides, followed by opening the vessel with different balloons and inserting a mesh tube (stent) that holds open the artery. 

Do you have a CTO diagnosis and want a second opinion? 

If you regularly experience the above symptoms or if you are diagnosed with chronic total occlusion, you could have additional treatment options. Ask for a referral from your physician.