South Korean researchers compared two procedures done to unblock the left main coronary arteries, bypass surgery and percutaneous coronary intervention -- PCI, often referred to as angioplasty. They concluded that angioplasty may be a good alternative for the current standard procedure bypass surgery.

The researchers focused on all-cause mortality and found no difference between PCI and bypass surgery although the patients who received stents in PCI procedure had much higher rates of revascularization, a procedure needed to reopen arteries that had become clogged again.

In case of the left main coronary artery blockage (artery that provides most of the blood to the heart's left ventricle), the current guidelines recommend coronary artery bypass over PCI unless a previous graft has been performed. PCI is usually preserved for those patients who are not suitable for bypass surgery or for those protected by a previous bypass graft.

In their study, South Korean researchers compared 1,102 patients with unprotected left main coronary artery disease who underwent stent implantation, with and without drugs with 1,138 patients who underwent CABG in 12 centers in Korea.

Overall, there were no major differences between the two groups in the risk of death or the risk of an outcome that included heart attack and stroke.

However, until more studies are conducted, CABG remains the treatment of choice in these patients.