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The Healthy Heart Handbook for Women

Special Procedures

Advanced heart disease may require special procedures to open an artery and improve blood flow. These operations are usually done to ease severe chest pain or clear blood vessel blockages. They include the following:

  • Coronary angioplasty, or balloon angioplasty. In this procedure, a thin tube called a catheter is threaded through an artery into the heart's narrowed blood vessel. The catheter has a tiny balloon at its tip, which is repeatedly inflated and deflated to open and stretch the artery, improving blood flow. Often, a tiny tube called a stent is permanently inserted in the artery to keep it open. Stenting may be particularly beneficial for women.

  • Coronary artery bypass graft, or "bypass surgery." A piece of vein is taken from the leg or a section of an artery is taken from the chest or wrist. This piece is attached to the heart artery both above and below the narrowed area, making a bypass around the blockage. If you need bypass surgery, ask your doctor whether you are a candidate for one of the newer types of bypass procedures. Inquire about "off pump" and "minimally invasive" coronary bypass surgery.

Table of Contents Next: Know the Warning Signs

Last Updated: February 29, 2012

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