Cardiac Procedures and Surgeries

Updated:Sep 15,2015

Senior Couple In Hospital With DoctorIf you've had a heart attack, you may have already had certain procedures to help you survive your heart attack and diagnose your condition. For example, many heart attack patients have undergone thrombolysis, a procedure that involves injecting a clot-dissolving agent to restore blood flow in a coronary artery (View an illustration of coronary arteries). This procedure is administered within a few (usually three) hours of a heart attack. If this treatment isn't done immediately after a heart attack, many patients will need to undergo coronary angioplasty or coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG) later to improve blood supply to the heart muscle.

See Diagnostic Tests and Procedures At-A-Glance to better understand the tests you may have to undergo to find out if you had a heart attack, how much damage was done and what degree of coronary artery disease (CAD) you have.

Cardiac Procedures and Surgeries

Also known as Percutaneous Coronary Interventions [PCI], Balloon Angioplasty and Coronary Artery Balloon Dilation. (View an animation of angioplasty)
What the Procedure Does
Special tubing with an attached deflated balloon is threaded up to the coronary arteries. The balloon is inflated to widen blocked areas where blood flow to the heart muscle has been reduced or cutoff. Often combined with implantation of a stent to help prop the artery open and decrease the chance of another blockage. Considered less invasive because the body is not cut open. Lasts from 30 minutes to several hours. Often requires an overnight hospital stay.

Reason for the Procedure

  • Greatly increases blood flow through the blocked artery.
  • Decreases chest pain (angina).
  • Increases ability for physical activity.
  • Reduces risk of a heart attack.
  • Can also be used to open neck and brain arteries to help prevent stroke.

This content was last reviewed July 2015.

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