>A less invasive procedure, coronary angioplasty, consists of placing a catheter with a balloon on its tip into the area of the blockage and inflating the balloon to open the artery. This may or may not include the placement of stents. This procedure does not require opening the chest and can be performed in an outpatient setting.
>Fitness and Diving Issue
>An individual who has undergone coronary artery bypass grafting or angioplasty (with or without stent placement) may have suffered significant cardiac damage prior to having the surgery. The post-operative cardiac function of individuals dictates their fitness for diving.
>Anyone who has had open-chest surgery needs appropriate medical evaluation prior to scuba diving. After a period of stabilization and healing (6-12 months is usually recommended), the individual should have a thorough cardiovascular evaluation prior to being cleared to dive. He or she should be free of chest pain and have normal exercise tolerance, as evidenced by a normal stress EKG test (13 mets or stage 4 of the Bruce protocol - defined at the end of previous section on MI). If there is any doubt about the success of the procedure or how open the coronary arteries are, the individual should refrain from diving.
>For more information on cardiovascular conditions, see the complete article by Dr. James L. Caruso on Cardiovascular Fitness and Diving from the July/August 1999 issue of Alert Diver.