Coronary artery disease (CAD) impacts a significant number of people in the U.S. Coronary artery disease occurs when there is a buildup of plaque in the heart’s arteries. Coronary artery disease causes coronary heart disease (CHD), but many health professionals often use these terms interchangeably.

Risk factors for coronary artery disease (CAD) include:

  • High blood pressure
  • High LDL cholesterol
  • Low HDL cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Family history of heart disease
  • Age (Particularly men over 45 and postmenopausal women)

Treatment for Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)

Before coronary artery disease advances to a later stage, a physician will often recommend that patients at risk for heart disease take preventative measures. This includes making diet and lifestyle changes or taking certain heart medications.

For patients with coronary artery disease in a more advanced stage, non-surgical or surgical procedures might be necessary to restore blood flow to the arteries and prevent a heart attack.

Percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), also known as angioplasty with stent, is a non-surgical procedure that is designed to open blocked arteries and restore blood flow to the heart. Rather than undergoing open-heart surgery, some patients with coronary artery disease may be candidates for PCI.

Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI) Procedure

During an angioplasty procedure, a catheter is inserted into a blood vessel. A doctor then guides the catheter to the blocked coronary artery. For this procedure, the catheter has a very small balloon at its tip, which is inflated in the narrow part of the artery.

Today, the vast majority of PCI procedures utilize a coronary stent. Permanently implanted in the artery, the stent is designed to keep the artery from narrowing or closing again.

Following an angioplasty with stent procedure, patients typically need two-to-six hours of bed rest and need to stay in the hospital overnight.

Other Types of CAD Procedures

Along with PCI, there are other procedures used to treat coronary artery disease, such as:

  • Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surgery (CABG) – Also known as heart bypass or bypass surgery, this operation is also used to treat a blocked or narrowed coronary artery and restore blood flow to the heart. Bypass surgery utilizes a heart-lung bypass machine, which pumps blood to the heart while it is stopped. Bypass surgery may be recommended for patients with coronary artery chronic total occlusion (CTO), in which there is a complete or almost-complete blockage of the artery for longer than a month.
  • Laser Atherectomy – A laser atherectomy is a newer procedure which involves inserting a catheter that emits a high energy light (laser) to vaporize blockages in the artery. While an angioplasty with stent is a more common procedure, some patients may be candidates for this type of angioplasty with a laser, rather than a stent.
  • Mechanical Atherectomy – A procedure where plaque is shaved or cut out

Non-surgical Treatment Options for Heart Disease

Denver Heart is a leader in the treatment and care of heart disease, offering the latest, minimally-invasive procedures for a significant number of heart conditions. At Denver Heart, our cardiac specialists provide a high level of care to each patient and are committed to helping heart patients improve their quality of life long-term.