How Are Angioplasty And Coronary Bypass Surgery Used To Treat CHF?

Patients with heart failure and severe coronary artery disease often benefit from angioplasty or bypass surgery. The surgery increases blood flow to the heart muscle. This may enhance the heart’s pumping action and help to relieve symptoms. Angioplasty is a catheter-based technique that does not require open-heart surgery.

Specially trained cardiologists insert a small tube or catheter that has a balloon in its tip into an artery in the arm or groin. The catheter is threaded along the artery into the heart and then into the coronary artery. The cardiologist advances the balloon tip into an area of blockage or narrowing and the balloon is inflated. This opens the artery and allows blood to flow to the muscle.

The most common surgery for heart failure is bypass surgery. Your doctor will determine if your heart failure is caused by coronary artery disease and if you have blockages that can be “grafted” or bypassed.

Although surgery is riskier for people with heart failure, new strategies before, during, and after surgery have reduced the risks and improved outcomes. Even patients with coronary artery disease and very low ejection fraction can still benefit from by-pass surgery, according to researchers from the VA Boston Healthcare System.

The researchers say such patients now have options, especially patients who are considered too old or for other reasons do not qualify for a heart transplant. Despite the high risk of this patient population, studies show that the outcomes are good.

Victoria’s comment:

I was diagnosed with coronary artery disease and had three of my coronary arteries bypassed. This has improved my chest pain and seemed to improve my ejection fraction some-what. I thought the surgery was going to hurt a lot, but it didn’t. It took me a couple of months to get back into my regular routine, but I feel better than before the surgery. I am less short of breath when I do a lot of walking.