Surgery after a heart attack If the patient’s heart has been severely damaged he/she may need to be operated on. The most common surgeries performed on heart attack patients are: Angioplasty This can be performed either after the heart attack, or in some specialist units during the attack. Angioplasty opens up the coronary artery. A small wire goes up the artery from the patient’s groin or arm and is pushed until it reaches where the clot is in the coronary artery. There is a small balloon, shaped like a sausage, at the end of the wire. The balloon is placed at the narrowest part of the artery and is then inflated, squashing the clot away. A flexible metal mesh, called a stent, is then placed there to keep that part of the artery open. CABG (Coronary artery bypass graft) The damaged blood vessel is by-passed with grafts taken from blood vessels elsewhere in the body. The bypass effectively goes around the blocked area of the artery, allowing blood to pass through into the heart muscle.