Angioplasty saves lives during a heart attack – if (and this is a big IF) it can be done fast enough to open the artery before permanent damage is caused to the heart muscle. But for patients who have no symptoms of an ongoing heart attack, angioplasty is often worthless. It exposes you to the risk of dying from a complication of having wires and tubes poked into your heart. And for patients with non-debilitating chest pain, angioplasty works no better than drugs and lifestyle changes.
So here’s the bottom line: If you’re not in the middle of a heart attack, you have time to think and to plan. Make sure your coronary artery images are reviewed by an expert doctor who is NOT the one proposing to do the angioplasty. Independent review is essential to any decision that you really need it.
Here is a good article from Harvard Medical School on who should get angioplasty — and who shouldn’t.
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