Choosing a treatment may seem like a decision that your doctor should
make. But you can take part in this important choice if:
You have mild heart disease. This means that
you do not have too much narrowing of the arteries that send blood and oxygen
to your heart (coronary arteries). It also means that your risk of
having a heart attack is not too high.
You have stable angina.
This is chest pain or discomfort that occurs only with emotional or physical stress and goes
away when you rest or after you take
Your doctor can tell you if you meet these
You will want to talk to your doctor about angioplasty
before you have a coronary angiogram (also called cardiac catheterization). During that test, you may not be able
to take part in the decision about angioplasty, because you will be sleepy from
medicines. So before the test, talk with your doctor about what the test might
show and what the doctor's options are in each case. You can tell the doctor in
advance what you would prefer, based on the test results.
What are the risks of angioplasty?
some rare but serious risks. They are:
The need for emergency open-chest surgery
during the procedure.
Keep in mind that the chances of having a serious problem
with this procedure are higher if you are older than 70.
people recover from angioplasty fairly quickly. They usually go home after an
overnight stay in the hospital. They can return to normal activities within a
How do you know if you need bypass surgery?
everyone with coronary artery disease needs bypass surgery. Some people can be
angioplasty with stents. Others use medical therapy,
which involves making lifestyle changes and taking medicines. Some people use
both of those treatments. Your doctor is likely to recommend bypass surgery
only if you will benefit from it and if those benefits are greater than the
Your choice may depend on the number of arteries that are blocked or which arteries are blocked. Talk with your doctor
about the best treatment for you. The best treatment for you may also depend on your age, your health, and
how much your chest pain is affecting your quality of life.
What are the risks of bypass surgery?
surgery has been done for more than 40 years. But it has some serious risks.
The risks of bypass surgery include:
Too much bleeding. This can lead to the need for a transfusion.
Other risks include return of angina, problems from
anesthesia, and infections at the site of the chest incision. Some people also
have memory loss and trouble thinking clearly. These problems are most common
in older people and tend to improve several months after surgery.
The chances of having a serious problem with bypass surgery are higher if
you are older than 70. Your risk is also higher if you have other problems such
as diabetes, kidney disease, lung disease, or
peripheral arterial disease. It's important to talk
with your doctor to find out how your health affects your risk.
Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
Stephen Fort, MD, MRCP, FRCPC - Interventional Cardiology
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.