Which procedure would be better for fighting off your coronary artery disease that is blocking the blood supply to your heart? A heart bypass surgery or angioplasty?
Indeed, this is a difficult question with no simple answer. When diagnosed with coronary artery disease, you may be confused about which treatment to go for. To make this decision a bit simple for you, we have compared the benefits and drawbacks of both angioplasty and heart bypass surgery.
Read on to know how a bypass and angioplasty differ and how can you choose the best treatment for yourself.
What is Heart Bypass Surgery?
In a heart bypass surgery, the cardiac surgeon will create another route for the blood to flow around the blocked region of the heart. To restore blood flow, the surgeon can take a part of your healthy blood vessel from inside the chest wall or from your lower leg and attach it below and above your blocked artery to create a bypass. This allows the oxygen-rich blood to reach your heart.
Pros of heart bypass surgery
- Reduces chest pain and can be a permanent solution to your coronary artery disease
- Reduces the risks of a heart attack
Cons of heart bypass surgery
- Infections in the chest wound
- Heart attack
- Kidney problems
What is Angioplasty?
Angioplasty uses a “balloon” to widen the narrowed or blocked coronary arteries. In this, the cardiac surgeon will make a small incision through which the catheter containing the balloon at its tip is inserted into the site of the blockage. When this balloon expands, the artery also widens. Nowadays, a stent which is a mesh-wired tube is also placed in the artery during angioplasty. The stent is left in the artery permanently and allows the blood to flow freely. This stent ensures that the particular artery stays widened as long as possible.
Pros of angioplasty
- It is faster
- The recovery period is less painful and shorter
- The patient can resume normal activities after a 1-2 day stay at the hospital
- It reduces the risk of a stroke
Cons of angioplasty
- The artery may become narrowed again after an angioplasty
- Blood clots may form in the stents
- Blood vessels can be damaged in the region where the catheter has been inserted
Heart Bypass Surgery vs Angioplasty
Your cardiac surgeon has to consider various factors while deciding whether a heart bypass surgery or an angioplasty would be better for you. These can include the number of blocked arteries, your overall health, the location where the artery is blocked, your medical history, and most importantly your preferences.
On the face of it, angioplasty seems to outweigh a heart bypass surgery because of the advantages it offers such as faster recovery. However, angioplasty doesn’t treat the underlying cause of coronary artery disease. Almost a quarter of patients who received angioplasty have to undergo a bypass surgery after some time. Thus, when it comes to durability, a heart bypass stands out. Bypass surgery is also a much better option in case of patients that have multiple blocked arteries.
Also, an angioplasty may not be suitable for everyone. People with diabetes and triple vessel disease (an extreme type of coronary artery disease) often have better results with bypass surgery as compared to angioplasty.
However, angioplasty has now become the treatment of choice for people suffering from less- severe coronary artery disease. Since it is less invasive, angioplasty can be performed in about an hour whereas a bypass surgery can take about 3-6 hours. Thus, angioplasty is a relatively faster option that allows the patient to return back to normal life quickly. This is especially true for older patients, mostly above 65 years of age who have a higher chance of facing the complications of a heart bypass surgery.
Choosing Between Angioplasty and Heart Bypass Surgery
Though your cardiac surgeon will consider various factors while deciding the best treatment for you, it is equally important for you to be a part of this decision-making process. You should:
- Discuss the pros and cons of each procedure carefully with your cardiac surgeon
- Consider the recovery time
- Check-in with your insurance provider as the cost of the treatment is also an important factor
If your region lacks access to quality cardiac surgeons or hospitals, then you can try searching for cardiac treatment in other countries to ensure that you receive the best care for your heart.
Avail Heart Bypass Surgery Across the World
Making a choice between angioplasty and a coronary artery bypass graft can seem confusing. However, by discussing various factors like the pros and cons of each procedure, cost, and your comfort level with your cardiac surgeon, you can reach a decision that you are happy with.