A Answers (4)
Arterial blockages are generally treated with medicine or lifestyle changes, says Tiffany Arnold, BSN, RN, PCCN, with Englewood Community Hospital. Learn more in this video.
A coronary angiogram opens a blockage in an artery for the heart with a catheter and stent. Learn more about it and other types of treatment for artery blockages in this video of Alvin Haynes, MD, of Regional Medical Center of San Jose.
Once artery blockages are verified by testing -- the results of an electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) and/or elevated cardiac enzymes -- doctors generally use cardiac catheterization for further diagnosis as well as for possible treatment. In the catheterization laboratory (cath lab), they are able to directly visualize the blocked heart arteries that could cause a heart attack.
During cardiac catheterization, doctors bring a catheter, or straw-like tube, up to the heart and inject dye directly into the heart arteries while x-ray pictures of the heart are taken. They can actually see the dye flowing through the heart arteries and see where they are narrowed or blocked. If that's the case, they can put a wire down that heart artery and use a balloon to open up the blockage and insert a stent to keep the artery open. Cardiac catheterization is a diagnostic tool, but it is also used as a treatment for somebody who is having a heart attack.
Sometimes, doctors are unable to insert a stent in a certain artery or certain position, or there are too many blockages in too many different arteries. In that situation, open heart surgery or bypass surgery is better a method of remedying the coronary disease.
Blockages in arteries that are not severe are treated with lifestyle modification, control of risk factors and medications. Severe blockages are treated by medication, angioplasty or bypass surgery, or a combination of the three.
This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.