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Coronary Artery Disease (cont.)

Angioplasty and Other Treatment

The goal of angioplasty is to open blood vessels and increase blood flow to the heart. It is done when arteries are narrowed or blocked from coronary artery disease. Angioplasty can be done with or without a small, wire-mesh tube called a stent.

Angioplasty is not surgery. It is done using a thin, soft tube called a catheter that's inserted in your artery. It doesn't use large cuts (incisions) or require anesthesia to make you sleep.

Most of the time, stents are placed during angioplasty. The stent keeps the artery open. When stents are used, there is a smaller chance that the artery will become narrow again. See a picture of angioplasty with stentingClick here to see an illustration..

Your doctor may use a bare metal stent or a drug-eluting stent. Drug-eluting stents are coated with medicine that helps keep the artery open after angioplasty.

Other Treatment Choices

Atherectomy is another treatment that is like angioplasty. But it is only done in certain cases. Atherectomy is done to shave away and maybe remove plaque in a narrowed artery.

Another treatment for people with long-term chest pain is enhanced external counterpulsation (EECP). Most of the time, this is done only if you are unable to have angioplasty or surgery.

What to Think About

Your treatment will depend in part on:

  • How many arteries are blocked.
  • How badly the arteries are blocked, and where.
  • Other heart problems you may have.
  • Your feelings about treatment.

No matter what treatment you receive, you'll still need to make changes in the way you eat and how much you exercise. These changes, along with not smoking, will give you the best chance of living a longer, healthier life.

To learn more, see:

Click here to view a Decision Point.Heart Disease: Should I Have Angioplasty for Stable Angina?
Click here to view a Decision Point.Heart Disease: Should I Have Bypass Surgery?

Cardiac rehabilitation

After angioplasty, your doctor may suggest that you attend a cardiac rehabilitation program. In cardiac rehab, a team of health professionals provides education and support to help you recover.

The rehab team can help you make new, healthy habits, such as eating right and getting more exercise. Making these changes is just as important as getting treatment in keeping your heart healthy and your arteries open.

For more information, see the topic Cardiac Rehabilitation.

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