What Is Coronary Artery Chronic Total Occlusion?

Our hearts receive blood through the coronary arteries. These two blood vessels branch down the left and right sides of the heart. They are the only sources of blood to the heart. This means that the heart needs them to work well. Coronary artery disease (CAD) occurs when plaque builds up in the artery walls, which compromises blood flow to the heart. CAD affects about 1.2 million Americans each year, leading to stroke and heart attacks. About one in five CAD patients have a coronary artery chronic total occlusion (CTO). This is the most severe form of CAD.

A CTO is the complete blockage of one or more of the coronary arteries with solid plaque (its density is compared to concrete). In most cases, it has been present for more than three months. Often, blood flow is severely compromised due to the blocked arteries. This causes the remaining arteries to detour blood to the compromised area by forming collaterals, or new arteries. This establishes blood flow to the heart.

Northwestern Medicine Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute offers a multi-disciplinary team of interventional cardiologists. They are experts in diagnosing and treating patients with CTOs. They offer an advanced, minimally invasive approach to treat these patients.

Meet the Coronary Artery Chronic Total Occlusion Teams

Northwestern Medicine Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute is a nationally recognized destination for those who require highly specialized cardiovascular care.