What is chronic total occlusion?

Chronic total occlusion is a total or near-complete obstruction in one or several coronary arteries lasting three months or more. The coronary arteries are types of blood vessels that play an essential role in delivering blood supply to the heart.

What are the symptoms of chronic total occlusion?

Signs of chronic total occlusion include the following:

  • Chest pain (heavy sensation centrally radiating to the left arm or jaw, this often is associated with nausea and sweating)
  • Lethargy
  • Palpitations.
  • Inconsistent heartbeat (arrhythmia).
  • Difficulty breathing.

Why does chronic total occlusion occur?

Chronic total occlusion develops when a fat-like substance (plaque) accumulates inside the coronary arteries. When left untreated, the plaque solidifies and restricts the arteries.

The risk of chronic total occlusion increases when you suffer from the following:

  • A history of heart disease that runs in the family.
  • Diabetes
  • Coronary artery disease.
  • Elevated cholesterol
  • Hypertension

Naturally, the risk of chronic total occlusion increases due to unhealthy lifestyle choices such as the following:

  • Smoking tobacco
  • Leading a sedentary lifestyle.
  • Consuming a diet high in salt (sodium).

Treatment options for coronary artery disease?

Treatment options for chronic total occlusion include the following:

  • Percutaneous coronary intervention is the insertion of a bendable tube (catheter) through the blood vessel in the groin and finally into the obstructed artery. A surgical balloon is inflated in the artery to help remove the plaque. Afterwards, a tiny mesh-like tube is placed in the artery to keep it open.
  • Complex bifurcation stenting is done to treat complex bifurcation obstruction that occurs in the tiny branches of the coronary artery. Advanced surgical techniques are used to insert the stent into the primary affected artery and small branch.
  • Left main coronary stenting is a procedure performed to rectify a blockage in the left main coronary artery. Again, a metal stent, covered in medication, is placed into the affected artery.
  • Coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) is the use and transfer of a blood vessel taken from another part of the body to develop a new pathway for blood to travel around the blocked region.


Can you live long with plaque in the arteries?

Plaque accumulation can be detrimental to your health, increasing the risk of a stroke or heart attack.

Is the formation of plaque in the arteries serious?

Yes, untreated plaque build-up can lead to blood clots, aneurysms, heart attack or stroke.

When are the signs of atherosclerosis likely to appear?

At the age of 45 for men and 55 for women.

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