Which Works Better: Stents or Bypass Surgery?

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By Dr. Birinder Singh Thind, Cardiology,

Both stents and bypass surgery are treatments for blocked arteries in your heart. Arteries are blood vessels that transport oxygenated blood to various parts of the body. Under optimal conditions, the walls of the arteries are smooth that allow the blood to flow freely. In some people, these arteries tend to become clogged by the accumulation of plaque in the arteries. Plaque is a combination of cholesterol with calcium, fat and other substances.

Clogged arteries tend to reduce flow of blood and increase the risks of a heart attack. Initially, the preferred treatment for blocked arteries was bypass surgery. Recent research seems to suggest that stents (a splint placed in the artery to allow proper blood flow) that are coated with medications also work well.

The procedures-

  1. Coronary Bypass Surgery: This is a surgical procedure by which the flow of blood is diverted around a section of the artery that has been clogged. This procedure involves taking a healthy blood vessel from the body and then connecting it around the clogged portion of the artery. The blood thus travels normally through the new pathway.
  2. Stents: Stents are tubes that are inserted into a clogged artery so that the passageway remains open, and the blood can flow normally. The process to insert them does not require major incisions and generally takes about an hour. Stents are coated with various drugs to help prevent further clogging of the arteries.
  3. The Verdict: Coronary bypass surgery is a better option if you suffer from multiple artery blockages. Stents have the advantage of faster recovery time and are thus less invasive as compared to bypass surgery. On the other hand, a Bypass surgery has better success rates in reducing chest pain when compared to stents. So, make a final decision after talking to your doctor and understanding the pros and cons of both the procedures. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a cardiologist.



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