An angioplasty procedure or bypass surgery might be done to open blocked arteries and improve blood flow to the heart.
Angioplasty. This procedure gets blood flowing back to the heart. It opens a coronary artery that was narrowed or blocked during a heart attack. Doctors try to do angioplasty as soon as possible after a heart attack. Angioplasty might be done for unstable angina, especially if there is a high risk of a heart attack.
Angioplasty is not surgery. It is done using a thin, soft tube called a catheter that's inserted in your artery. It doesn't use large cuts (incisions) or require anesthesia to make you sleep.
Most of the time, stents are placed during angioplasty . They keep the artery open.
But angioplasty is not done at all hospitals. Sometimes an ambulance will take a person to a hospital that provides angioplasty, even if that hospital is farther away. If a person is at a hospital that does not do angioplasty, he or she might be moved to another hospital where it is available.
If you are at a hospital that has proper equipment and staff to do this procedure, you may have cardiac catheterization, also called coronary angiogram. Your doctor will check your coronary arteries to see if angioplasty is right for you.
Bypass surgery. If angioplasty is not right for you, emergency coronary artery bypass surgery may be done. For example, bypass surgery might be a better choice because of the location of the blockage or because you have many blockages.
After you have had angioplasty or bypass surgery, you may be encouraged to take part in a cardiac rehabilitation program to help lower your risk of death from heart disease. For more information, see the topic Cardiac Rehabilitation.