Bypass vs. angioplasty

Published: July, 2011

Comparisons have produced mixed results, but the heyday for both procedures (especially bypass) may be winding down.

Yes, it's an oversimplification, but at one level, coronary artery disease is a plumbing problem. The coronary arteries supply the heart with blood. When they get gunked up with atherosclerotic plaque, not enough blood can get through. If the blockage isn't too bad, the result is angina, the pain caused by a heart working with an inadequate blood supply. If the blockage is bigger or the plaque ruptures, the result can be a heart attack, the death of heart tissue that was suddenly starved for blood and oxygen.

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