Coronary artery disease, after being diagnosed by noninvasive testing, is treated either with medications alone, or with medications plus angioplasty or bypass surgery. Angioplasty is the use of catheters to enter the coronary blood circulation and find blocked arteries. The blocked arteries are then opened up with a balloon and a permanent metal spring called a stent. In more complex and severe cases, bypass surgery (open-heart) may be necessary to repair or replace the circulation problems of diseased arteries in the heart.
Placement of cardiac stents/angioplasty is an outpatient procedure that usually involves one night of observation in the hospital and a very short recovery time after discharge.
Bypass surgery is an open-heart procedure and involves an average of five days’ stay in the hospital after the procedure, followed by a recovery usually involving extensive rehabilitation for the next two to three months.