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A Patient's Guide to Heart Surgery

Non-Surgical Treatment Options

What are the non-surgical treatment options?

Each year many patients with coronary artery disease will need treatment to restore the flow of blood to the heart. That treatment might include drug therapy, angioplasty or surgical intervention.

Drugs can work to dilate the coronary arteries, enabling more blood to be delivered to the heart tissue. Angioplasty is a procedure where a tiny balloon is inserted into the blocked artery and inflated at the site of a blockage. Inflating the balloon reopens the vessel. The balloon is then deflated and removed. A small frame called a "stent" can also be placed in the artery after angioplasty to ensure that the artery remains open.

What are the disadvantages of these non-surgical treatments?

Drug therapy only treats the symptoms of coronary artery disease. In addition, drugs often have adverse side effects and are not always effective at increasing the blood supply to the heart. Angioplasty is not suited for treatment of all types of blockages and it is only a temporary solution-angioplasty can fail and arteries can become blocked again.

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