Arteries are normally smooth and unobstructed on the inside, but as you age, plaque can build up in the walls of your arteries. Cholesterol, calcium, and fibrous tissue make up this plaque. As more plaque builds up, your arteries can narrow and stiffen. This process is called atherosclerosis, or ha rdening of the arteries. Eventually, enough plaque builds up to reduce blood flow through your arteries.
Depending upon the particular circumstances, your physician may recommend angioplasty or stenting as an alternative to bypass surgery, which also treats narrowed arteries.
For certain types of blockages, angioplasty has some advantages when compared to bypass surgery. For example, angioplasty does not require a large incision. Because of this, angioplasty patients usually spend less time in the hospital and recover at home faster than bypass surgery patients. Also, your physician can usually perform angioplasty while you are awake, whereas bypass surgery requires general or regional anesthesia.
Nevertheless, in some circumstances, bypass surgery may be a better option. Your vascular surgeon will help you decide what alternative is best for your particular situation.
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