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Procedures to improve blood flow to the heart

When the coronary arteries are narrowed or blocked, blood flow to the heart can be restored in two ways – by a procedure that stretches and holds open the narrowed part of the artery (called percutaneous coronary intervention or PCI, or angioplasty with stent placement) or using surgery to bypass the blocked or narrowed artery (coronary artery bypass grafting). Your cardiac team will discuss which of the procedures is most suitable for you and will advise you about the risks and benefits. When there is a choice of procedure, the team should discuss this with you.

Questions you might like to ask about procedures to improve blood flow to the heart

  • Will these procedures help me?

  • Which is the best procedure for me?

  • What does each procedure involve?

  • What are the possible risks and benefits?

  • What could happen if I choose not to have the recommended procedure?

Percutaneous coronary intervention (angioplasty)

If you are offered percutaneous coronary intervention to widen a narrowed artery, you may be offered other 'blood-thinning' drugs by drip at the time of the procedure. You will be on a drip for several hours afterwards.

Coronary artery bypass grafting

If you are offered coronary artery bypass grafting, your cardiac team may talk to you about stopping the 'blood-thinning' drug clopidogrel 5 days before the procedure.

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