For help on making a decision to have angioplasty or bypass surgery, see:
Choosing a treatment may seem like a decision that your doctor should make. But you can take part in this important choice if:
Your doctor can tell you if you meet these conditions.
You will want to talk to your doctor about angioplasty before you have a coronary angiogram (also called cardiac catheterization). During that test, you will 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.
Angioplasty has some rare but serious risks. They are:
Keep in mind that the chances of having a serious problem with this procedure are higher if you are older than 70.
Most 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 few days.
Not everyone with coronary artery disease needs bypass surgery. Some people can be helped by 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 risks.
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.
Bypass surgery has been done for more than 40 years.But it has some serious risks.
The risks of bypass surgery include:
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.
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