When Jeffrey Keel began experiencing shooting shoulder pains during exercise, he instantly knew something was wrong with his heart. Seven years prior, at 41 years old, a similar shooting pain led to a triple bypass, as a result of three clogged arteries.
Jeffrey was experiencing the side-affects of a Chronic Total Occlusion (CTO). Over time, one of his bypassed arteries had reclosed and become 100 percent blocked.
Like other CTO patients, Jeffrey’s heart had developed small alternate channels to go around the blockage and maintain some blood flow, preventing a heart attack from occurring. However, these channels could not handle the amount of blood that the blocked artery would, and everyday tasks such as checking the mail, walking the dog or cleaning the house had become impossible.
Prior to developing his CTO, Jeffrey lived an active lifestyle. He had started a career as a musician and traveled often with his band, Big Kettle Drum, performing shows to raise money for children and their families battling cancer. When possible, he incorporated exercise into his schedule and made a conscious effort to eat better – an effort that had resulted in a near 40-pound weight loss. All of this was jeopardized when the CTO appeared.
A few years ago, Jeffrey’s only treatment option would have been lifelong medications to help his angina (chest pains), because he wasn’t an ideal candidate to have another open-heart surgery. Even with medication, there was the possibility that physical activity would be difficult and the end of his music career was almost certain. Luckily, interventional cardiologists at Tallahassee Memorial had discovered a new way to help him.
Approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2011, the procedure involves using new technology and techniques to bypass blockages by entering the wall of an artery and using stents to create an alternate tunnel for blood flow to the other side. Arteries in the wrist or groin are used to access the heart, so the chest is never opened. Jeffrey’s CTO treatment went extremely well. After just one day in the hospital, he returned home two days later.
Today, he is back touring with his band and already has plans to go back to school for his third career as a cath lab technician.