Coronary artery disease refers to the build-up of fatty deposits called plaque within the arteries, or main vessels that send blood throughout the body. This build-up will narrow the blood vessels, making it harder for blood to travel where needed. And you will thusly have higher blood pressure.
A cardiologist can recommend medications and therapies so that your heart disease does not worsen. But sometimes a blockage may form in the artery that will require medical intervention.
The type of procedure your heart doctor may suggest for this cardiac problem may vary. But each treatment will work to improve your blood flow within the arteries. Read on to learn the similarities and differences between treating blood flow issues in the arteries with angioplasty and with bypass surgery.
Widen Narrow Arteries with Angioplasty
For patients with narrow arteries due to heart disease who have formed a blockage, a doctor might be more likely to recommend treating the problem with angioplasty. This procedure involves a heart doctor inserting a catheter into the narrowed artery. On the end of the catheter is a small balloon, which the doctor inflates once in position. They may do this several times during the procedure as needed.
This process presses the plaque against the sides of the artery so that blood can better flow through the vessel. The doctor can leave the stent in place, ensuring the artery continues this improved blood flow.
Though this procedure involves only a small incision, many patients will likely need to stay at least one night at the hospital to recover. The stent will permanently stay in place. But some patients might need the replacement of a stent within a few months if the artery narrows again. Continue regular check-ups with your cardiovascular specialist.
Divert Blocked Arteries with Bypass Surgery
Another way a doctor can treat a patient with a blocked artery is through bypass surgery. Doctors usually reserve this procedure for patients with blockages in the major artery: the left anterior descending artery. This type of open-heart surgery will use a graft taken from healthy blood vessel tissue to create a way around the blockage in the artery.
Then the blood can bypass the blockage and see improvement in blood flow. You may need to stay in the hospital for several days after this surgery, and you can expect 6-8 weeks to recover fully.
The bypass graft can last for 10-15 years, though the new graft can become clogged too in patients with heart disease. Make sure you continue to follow directions from your doctor to minimize risk factors from heart disease.
If the bypass graft becomes blocked, your doctor will likely treat the problem through angioplasty. Talk to your cardiovascular specialist about concerns regarding your unique needs. They can help you find the best solution for your scenario. Fixing blockages within the arteries is necessary to prevent emergency situations like heart attacks, so do not delay this treatment.