Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery (CABG) is generally considered to be the most superior treatment for Coronary Artery Disease, but it is also known for longer recovery periods and linked to a higher risk of both minor and major complications. Hence, why some might want to consider its alternatives.
The most recommended alternatives to Coronary Bypass Surgery are Coronary Angioplasty, Medication, Enhanced External Counter Pulsation (EECP), and in less severe (or early) cases significant changes in diet and lifestyle.
Some of these alternatives are practical only in very specific situations — which has been summarized below.
With Coronary Angioplasty risks are significantly reduced. It involves the insertion of a ‘balloon’ catheter (either through your groin or arm) into the afflicted artery, with the attached balloon set off in order to widen the artery enough to allow for the placement of a stent — which is a small metal tube that will act as a support for the artery and allow for blood to flow through.
This is significantly less invasive than a CABG surgery — which, in some cases, might necessitate that your heart is stopped for an undetermined amount of time. Angioplasty is also known to results in less major complications.
However, there are certain situations where this treatment is not feasible. People who are suffering from multiple occlusions, people who have abnormal anatomy of the blood vessels closest to the heart, people who are over 65 years in age, and people with diabetes are discouraged from choosing this treatment over CABG surgery.
That doesn’t mean that people who don’t belong in the categories listed above are recommended to choose angioplasty, but it’s an option that should be thoroughly explored when you meet your cardiologist or cardiac surgeon.
In less severe cases, it is possible to treat Coronary Artery Disease with medication — by controlling the symptoms related to the condition and reducing its progression. It’s not the most effective of treatments, but the medication listed below are options that can be considered by those who are not at risk for heart attacks or stroke.
- Antiplatelets — blood clot preventing medication
- Statins — reduces high cholesterol
- Beta Blockers & Nitrates — helps prevent angina and treat hypertension (high blood pressure.)
Enhanced External Counter Pulsation (EECP)
EECP is a procedure recommended to people who are, specifically, suffering with Congestive Heart Failure. It encourages the creation of ‘natural bypasses’ and increases the blood flow to the heart by compressing the patient’s blood vessels in their lower extremities.
Dietary and Lifestyle Changes
This ‘treatment’ is less of a procedure and more of a preventative measure. Healthy changes in your diet and lifestyle are one of the best ways of stopping the progression of the disease and, much like the medications discussed above, should prevent most of the complications related to Coronary Artery Disease.
Conclusion: What are the Alternatives to Coronary Bypass Surgery?
There is no cure-all to Coronary Artery Disease. It’s a life-long condition that must vigilantly be kept in check. In the case of most of the alternatives we introduced, that might be more often than you’d think — which is why CABG is the most recommended solution.
If you’re still unsure about what treatment plan is best for you, then it’s best that you discuss the benefits and risks involved with a medical professional who has personal insight to your own unique personal medical history.
- “Coronary Angioplasty for Elderly Patients With ‘High Risk’ Unstable Angina: Short-Term Outcomes and Long-Term Survival.” Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Elsevier, 24 May 2000, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0735109796004950.
- Singh, Mukesh, et al. “Coronary Revascularization in Diabetic Patients: Current State of Evidence.” Experimental and Clinical Cardiology, Pulsus Group Inc, 2011, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3076161/.
- Ziaeirad, Marzieh, et al. “The Effects of Enhanced External Counterpulsation on Health-Related Quality of Life in Patients with Angina Pectoris.” Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research, Medknow Publications & Media Pvt Ltd, Jan. 2012, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3590694/.