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Five Nonsurgical Interventional Procedures for Treating Coronary Blockages

Are There Risks?

As with just about any medical procedure, there are potential risks with these interventional methods. Some of the possible risks include:
  • Infection
  • Irregular heart rhythm
  • Bleeding at the site where the catheter was inserted
  • Chest pain or angina
  • Kidney failure
  • Mild-to-moderate skin reactions (like a sunburn) from x-ray exposure
  • Closure of coronary artery
  • Heart attack, blood clot, or stroke
  • Emergency coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery
  • Allergic reactions to the medication or contrast material used during the procedure
  • Loss of life.
Because there may be other possible risks, depending on your particular medical issue and the procedure performed, make sure to talk to your cardiologist about the specific complications that may apply to you.

Last Thoughts on Interventional Procedures

Coronary artery disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. Around half of Americans (49 percent) have at least one of the three key risk factors for heart disease -- high blood pressure, high LDL ("bad") cholesterol, and smoking. Unfortunately, these statistics mean that you may be one of the people who has to look into options for treating coronary blockages. However, this does not necessarily mean you will have major surgery.
For many people, the nonsurgical interventional procedures will help to increase blood flow to the heart, reduce chest pain, and decrease the risk for a heart attack. While these procedures aren't a "cure" for coronary artery disease, they can help reduce your risk factors and slow down the progression of the disease. A healthy diet, exercise, and other lifestyle changes can also help you to ensure the best results.
Also, because stents can become blocked, make sure you talk to your healthcare provider about what to do if you develop chest pain even after receiving a stent. You may need a repeat procedure or need to look at other options.
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