Heart patient benefits from new technique to treat CTO

November 08, 2016 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health
Categories: Healthy Driven Hearts

On Sept. 19, Bill Youngs, 58, of Villa Park, was at home when he felt pressure in his chest and pain that started down both arms. Having experienced a heart attack in 2004, he knew all the signs.

Youngs went to the ER at Elmhurst Hospital. There, tests confirmed it was a myocardial infarction, or a heart attack. The doctors also uncovered a risky blood clot in one of his bypass grafts.

Youngs spent the next few days in the ICU, where he says he was well cared for: “In the ICU, the least little thing I needed and they were right there. That meant everything to someone in my situation at the time.”

Youngs’ doctors at Elmhurst started him on blood thinners to try to eliminate some of the debris in his bypass graft, but the medication did not help. There was a risk that the blood clot would break up and travel to his heart.

This is when Lawrence Barr, M.D. and Tony DeMartini, M.D., specialists in cardiovascular disease and interventional cardiology, stepped in. They determined the chronic total occlusion (CTO), or a 100 percent blocked coronary artery could be opened without risking manipulation of the blood clot.

CTOs have been difficult to treat without open heart surgery. But Youngs already had a bypass procedure after his 2004 heart attack. His doctors wanted to avoid the possibility of another bypass procedure.

Fortunately, Drs. Barr and DeMartini knew of a minimally invasive technique to open the blocked artery and keep it open. “I could have been back on the table in three months having open heart surgery,” says Youngs.

On Sept. 23, Dr. DeMartini used this new technique to seal off the blood clot and push through the blockage of his native coronary artery, then keep Youngs’ artery open with a double stent.

Youngs says he’s thankful for the care he received. “I give all the credit in the world to Dr. Barr and Dr. DeMartini. They teamed up together and came up with a plan to get me through this using the least aggressive surgery they could,” says Youngs. “They put their minds together and were creative with what they did, and it worked.”

Youngs came home on Sept. 26. Of his recovery, he says: “Recovery has been tough but good. I have a little soreness but other than that, I feel good. Things are looking up.”

Youngs says he’s looking forward to watching his diet, being healthy, and getting on with his life. He credits his wife of 36 years, Ellen, to helping him achieve these goals: “She’s a nurse so she keeps on me and makes sure I’m on top of all of this stuff. I think that helped to keep me here today.” The couple have two grown children and grandchildren who live nearby.

Of his overall experience, Youngs says: “I would refer Edward-Elmhurst Health to anyone. They are unbelievably on the ball. My doctors were top notch. The staff was very professional and courteous.” He adds, “It’s a place where you can go and know that you’re in good hands, which means a lot.”

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