Jolette Munoz says her quality of life has improved tremendously over the course of her treatment for various heart issues at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center. But it’s her most recent advanced stenting procedure that has brought the most dramatic improvement in her quality of life, she says.
Jolette’s health issues began with a massive heart attack in 2009, which was followed by triple bypass surgery to treat a 90 percent blockage in her left anterior descending (LAD) artery. Then, later that year, she was treated for peripheral artery disease (PAD), a vascular arterial disease that causes blockages in the arteries to the legs.
Although Jolette’s surgeries improved her quality of life, over the next six years she experienced complications from her bypass. This led to multiple stenting procedures of her bypass arteries, which unexpectedly failed due to weakened blood vessels from radiation treatment for lung cancer several years prior to her heart attack. “It seemed like every other month I landed in the hospital for issues with my stents,” she says.
But then, last November, Jolette says something “crazy phenomenal” happened. That’s when U-M’s Dr. Daniel Menees performed an advanced stenting procedure to her LAD artery (which was now 100 percent blocked).
The decision was made in April when doctors reviewing Jolette’s history offered two options: Go through another open-heart surgery or have the advanced stenting procedure, considered rare for arteries that become totally blocked.
“Once an artery has been completely blocked for more than three months, it is considered a chronic total occlusion or CTO,” says Dr. Menees. “Traditionally, CTOs have been treated with medications or bypass surgery as they are technically more challenging and often less successful when trying to stent.”
For Jolette, the decision was easy. “I felt confident and comfortable with Dr. Menees and the procedure,” she says, admitting that she wanted to avoid another open-heart surgery.
New and improved
According to Dr. Menees, stenting of chronically occluded arteries is an advanced procedure that has existed for a number of years, but is becoming more popular as an alternative to the traditional open-heart surgery and medication protocol for completely blocked blood vessels.
In Jolette’s case, Dr. Menees was able to successfully open her CTO, which has led to a dramatic improvement in her symptoms and quality of life and has kept her from going through another open-heart surgery.
“The technology and tools have been improved, and we’re seeing a steady increase in the volume of procedures we perform,” Dr. Menees says. “Opening CTOs is at the forefront of stenting procedures and certainly requires more advanced techniques and training.”
A better version of myself
After Jolette’s procedure, she returned to the U-M Cardiac Rehabilitation Program where she continues to make great progress. “My heart is stronger than we thought,” she says. “I want to be the best possible version of myself. This last procedure almost erases the other surgeries I’ve had over the years. Dr. Menees told me, ‘I want you to live your life. You have no restrictions.’”
Dr. Menees is optimistic about Jolette’s long-term health. “We believe this procedure was the best solution for her and will provide long-term benefits.”
Take the next step:
- Find out more about PAD.
- Read about the myths that keep patients from following through with cardiac rehab.
The University of Michigan Samuel and Jean Frankel Cardiovascular Center is a top-ranked heart and heart surgery program among Michigan hospitals. To learn more, visit our website at umcvc.org.