Balloon Power

New evidence cites angioplasty as the better way to treat heart attacks

THE PATIENT COMPLAINS OF SEVERE CHEST PAINS, A sign that a heart attack is imminent or already in progress. Doctors have two options: inject the patient with drugs to dissolve clots in the coronary arteries or resort to angioplasty, an operation that involves opening the blood vessels by inserting and inflating tiny balloons. The drug treatment is simpler than angioplasty, but which is more effective? Two reports published in the New England Journal of Medicine come down on the side of the balloons. In one study, angioplasty reduced by half the risk of death or another heart attack six months after...

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