ASK OUR EXPERTS

Choose Topic
Using 0 of 1024 Possible characters
Home »  Heart »  Blocked Heart Arteries: Top 5 Treatment Options

Blocked Heart Arteries: Top 5 Treatment Options

How should heart disease be treated? By drugs, balloons, drills, lasers or operation. Dr. O.P Yadava and Dr. Ajit Bana discuss which methods to use and when

Blocked Heart Arteries: Top 5 Treatment Options

The heart is a muscular pump that needs its own steady supply of oxygen-rich blood to work properly. So, if the coronary arteries, the tubes that carry blood to the heart muscle, become clogged with fatty deposits or plaques, there could be trouble.

Depending on the degree of blockage, the patient may experience varying degrees of chest discomfort, called angina, during physical exertion. Even a heart attack may occur if blood flow in a coronary artery is suddenly cut off completely, usually by a blood clot that forms on a plaque.

Drugs, Balloons and Surgery

There are various ways to treat the narrowing in coronary arteries. If the symptoms are mild, the doctor may give medicines that reduce the heart's demand for oxygen or cause blood vessels to relax and widen. But, what if symptoms are not sufficiently helped by medicines?

Previously, the only option was bypass surgery to re-route blood flow around the blockage. Today, there are non-surgical alternatives that open blocked arteries. Coronary angioplasty with a balloon and placement of a stent or other device is the most common alternative.

The cardiologist (heart specialist) may refer to this as percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA). Percutaneous means through the skin, transluminal means inside the blood vessels, coronary means vessels supplying the heart, and angioplasty means blood vessel repair.

In most cases, a device called a stent has been used in recent years. A stent is a fine metallic mesh coil that is inserted into the artery via a specially designed fine tube. The stent holds the narrowed artery open wider and reduces the likelihood that the artery will become narrowed again.

Some stents are being designed with clot-busting medication, or with radiation, because studies have shown that both may be effective in preventing arteries from narrowing again. Researchers have found that small doses of radiation (called intra-coronary radiotherapy) can reduce the scar tissue that forms around the stent following angioplasty.

Coronary bypass surgery, an alternative to angioplasty, is a major option. An artery from the chest wall or hand or vein from another part of the body is grafted to bypass the blocked heart artery. It redirects blood flow around the blockage to the heart muscle deprived of blood.

Angioplasty vs Bypass Surgery
  1. Pain and side effects: With angioplasty, there is relatively minor discomfort from having a catheter inserted into the leg or arm artery. The patient must lie flat for about six hours but can be up and walking soon and go home within the next 2-3 days. Bypass surgery traditionally involves splitting the breast bone. Most of the discomfort stems from this and from the incision in the arm or leg, from where the conduits (blood vessels) are taken. The discomfort in the chest, arm and leg lasts for 3-6 weeks.
  2. Requirement for subsequent procedures: About 20-25% of people who have angioplasty will need to have it repeated within a year, compared to less than 5% of coronary bypass patients who need to have a repeat bypass surgery within a year. That is the down side to angioplasty; it doesn't last very long. But it is easier to repeat if necessary. Surgical bypass lasts an average of 10 to 15 years. Bypass surgery can be repeated with only a very marginal increase in risk.
  3. Multiple blockages in arteries: Angioplasty can be used for multiple blockages, but the risk of having problems or re-blockage with the angioplasty increases when more blockages are treated. At this stage, the best procedure for these types of blockages is coronary bypass surgery.
  4. Other associated risks: There is a less than 2% chance that a patient will suffer a heart attack or require emergency bypass surgery during coronary angioplasty. The chances of having a heart attack during bypass surgery is also about 2-3%.
  5. Mortality rates: The risk of death from either procedure is usually about 1 to 2 per cent, but it depends upon a lot of factors like strength of heart muscles, type of blockage and other risk factors. Various studies show that for many people, coronary angioplasty works as well as bypass surgery to reduce chest pain and improve lifestyle. But coronary artery disease is a very diverse disease, and no two patients are alike and treatments still need to be tailored for specific patients. Some patients are obvious candidates for angioplasty, and some are obviously better candidates for surgery. The decision is made for an individual patient by joint consultation between doctor and patient.
  6. Beyond the balloon and stents: Scientists continue to look for ways to improve coronary angioplasty. The goal is to reduce complications, lower the frequency of re-blockage, and improve the success rate for less than ideal candidates.
Other techniques that are occasionally used include:
  • Directional atherectomy: This is done using a miniature rotating blade to cut out the fatty deposit and remove it from the body. This is only beneficial in about 1 percent of cases.
  • Rotational atherectomy: This uses a diamond-studded drill-bit to pulverize blockages. This is particularly useful for calcified, ridge blockages that are present in about 5 percent of cases.
  • Lasers: These use tiny laser beams that can vaporize plaques. This is beneficial in less than 1 percent of cases.
In addition, more than two dozen medications are being evaluated for effectiveness in preventing the re-narrowing of treated arteries with promising results.

Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.

................... Advertisement ...................

   

FAQ

ASK OUR EXPERTS

Using 0 of 1024 Possible characters
Choose Topic

Latest stories

Florida: Diabetics Selling Insulin And Testing Supplies In Black Market

Tue, 26 Sep 2017 17:30:43 IST
In Florida, diabetes patients are indulging in black marketing and illegal selling of their insulin and testing supplies and are trying to making a fortune out of their medical condition.

Tamil Nadu: Women Lack Access To Contraceptive Options

Tue, 26 Sep 2017 16:30:44 IST
One of the most urbanized states of the country, Tamil Nadu has witnessed an eight percent decrease in the use of all forms of contraceptives in the last decade. This decline in contraceptive use is bad news for women.

Yoga Can Hurt If Not Done Properly, Say Experts

Tue, 26 Sep 2017 15:30:15 IST
Where yoga is known to be a great healer and a contributor in improving physical strength and body flexibility, it can also have adverse effects if not done properly. Deepak Jha, yoga expert, has pointed out certain health problems you may face if you practice yoga poses incorrectly.

Marijuana Helps In Avoiding Hard Drugs, Study; Health Benefits Of Marijuana

Tue, 26 Sep 2017 13:30:36 IST
Marijuana may in fact prevent people from progressing to harder drugs like cocaine or ecstasy, as per scientists. Know the rare health benefits of marijuana.

Maharashtra: Anganwadi Workers Continue To Strike, Parents and Children Suffer

Tue, 26 Sep 2017 12:30:24 IST
Anganwadi workers have been on strike across the entire state of Maharashtra since September 11th, and this, of late, has started bothering the parents of children who rely on these anganwadis for their daily meals. The children have now resumed eating home-cooked meals and are even resorting to cheap, junk food.