Is that angioplasty really necessary?

Published: March, 2014

In the throes of a heart attack, artery-opening angioplasty is a lifesaver. The same can't be said when it's done to open a narrowed heart artery that isn't causing problems.

A quarter of a century ago, Andreas Grüntzig wheeled a colleague with chest pain into a Zurich operating room for a procedure that hadn't been tried before on a human. The Swiss cardiologist guided a balloon-tipped wire into his friend's diseased coronary artery, nestled it in a narrowing that restricted blood flow, and inflated the balloon. Like blasting open a dam, the balloon pushed aside the artery-narrowing plaque and allowed blood to once again flow freely through the artery.

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