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New Technology To Treat Totally Blocked Arteries

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Bay Medical Sacred Heart is the first hospital in the area to offer a new treatment for fully blocked coronary arteries known as Chronic Total Occlusions (CTOs). Historically, chronically blocked arteries have been addressed by heart bypass surgery or treated with medications. Chronic occlusions differ from acute occlusions as the inside of the artery fills with scar tissue over time, thus making it much more difficult to re-open. Without opening the blockage however, patients with a CTO often have a reduced quality of life and an increased risk of mortality. Interventional cardiologists, Dr. Amir Haghighat and Dr. Samir Patel, treated the first local patients using a new technique with a specialized crossing device at the end of April and have successfully helped seven patients to date.

About the Cardiac Catheterization Lab & CTOs

In a cardiac cath lab, cardiologists inject a dye into a patient’s blood stream and use live action x-ray cameras that rotate around the patient to capture images, called an angiogram, of the blood vessels around the heart. This procedure, called coronary angiography, is used to determine if there are blockages in the arteries around the heart. Using a small point of entry and the live x-ray of the blood vessels as a road map, an interventional cardiologist uses a catheter to guide wires through the blood vessels to reach areas where the arteries have narrowed due to build-up of plaque. A tiny balloon is then inflated inside the artery to press open the narrowed area and improve blood flow. When there is a 100 percent blockage (CTO) that has been in place for some time and scar tissue has formed, the cardiologist is unable to see the remainder of the artery on the angiogram and historically could not guide a wire past the blockage. Thirty-one percent of patients referred for coronary angiography have at least one totally blocked artery. While some are treated with bypass surgery, 60 percent of patients with CTOs are treated only with prescription drugs. CTOs affect the survival and quality of life of hundreds of thousands of people, and have previously been an untreatable condition for many patients.

New Technology & Techniques

With the leadership of Drs. Haghighat and Patel, Bay Medical Sacred Heart has now established a CTO Program to address this complex form of coronary artery disease following in-depth physician training from Boston Scientific on the CrossBoss™ and Stingray™ Coronary CTO Crossing and Re-entry System. These devices enable physicians to treat lesions more successfully and efficiently in the cath lab without open surgery. They are currently the only devices of their kind on the market that are FDA cleared to specifically treat coronary CTOs.

“These unique devices require new techniques and training and we are now among a select group of hospitals nationwide to work with Boston Scientific to develop a CTO Program,” says Dr. Haghighat. “Chronic total occlusions used to have limited treatment alternatives beyond medical management or surgery and we are pleased to be able to bring these innovative new devices and additional treatment options to our patients and our community.”

Heart Disease Facts

Heart disease is responsible for 1 in every 4 deaths in the United States, and is the leading cause of death for both men and women. Coronary artery disease is the most common type of heart disease, killing more than 385,000 people annually. Approximately every 34 seconds, one American has a coronary event, and approximately every 60 seconds, an American will die of one. Each year, coronary heart disease costs the United States $108.9 billion in health care services, medications, and lost productivity.

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