Orlando, Fla. (AP) — A large study finds that it is OK to have a non-emergency procedure to open clogged heart arteries in a hospital that doesn't have surgeons ready to operate if something goes wrong.
Doctors say the procedure, called balloon angioplasty, has become so safe that surgical backup is no longer needed. Only about 20 states allow this now, and hospitals in some areas have sued so they can offer the procedure.
More than a million angioplasties are done each year in the United States. Most are non-emergency cases for people having chest pain because clogged arteries are keeping enough blood from reaching the heart.
The study was discussed Monday at an American Heart Association conference in Florida.