Cardiology / Cardiac Surgeries
Coronary angioplasty (AN-jee-oh-plas-tee) is a procedure used to open narrow or blocked coronary (heart) arteries. All kinds of vascular interventions performed in minimally invasive or percutaneous method are a part of the angioplasty. As you age, a waxy substance called plaque (plak) can build up inside your arteries. This condition is called atherosclerosis (ath-er-o-skler-O-sis). Atherosclerosis can affect any artery in the body. When atherosclerosis affects the coronary arteries, the condition is called coronary heart disease (CHD) or coronary artery disease.
Over time, plaque can harden or rupture (break open). Hardened plaque narrows the coronary arteries and reduces the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the heart. This can cause chest pain or discomfort called angina (an-JI-nuh or AN-juh-nuh). If the plaque ruptures, a blood clot can form on its surface. A large blood clot can mostly or completely block blood flow through a coronary artery. This is the most common cause of a heart attack. Over time, ruptured plaque also hardens and narrows the coronary arteries.
Other Names for Coronary Angioplasty
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Procedure for Coronary Angioplasty
Angioplasty can restore blood flow to the heart. Coronary Angioplasty also known as percutaneous coronary intervention involves a small incision to be made in the arm or groin to find an artery. The cardiologist leads a thin wire through the incision to the blocked artery. As soon as the wire reaches the blocked artery, a catheter with a deflated balloon is passed over the inserted wire to the blocked area. When the tube reaches the blockage the balloon is inflated which in turn widens the artery the increase the blood flow. Plaque removers may be used to remove the deposited plaque from the walls of the artery. Modern devices like stents are used to keep the artery open. A stent is permanently fixed. After about 4 to 5 hours of the Coronary Angioplasty the wire and catheter are removed.
Who Needs Coronary Angioplasty?
Your doctor may recommend coronary angioplasty if you have narrow or blocked coronary arteries as a result of coronary heart disease(CHD).
Angioplasty is one treatment for CHD. Other treatments include medicines and coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG). CABG is a type of surgery in which a healthy artery or vein from the body is connected, or grafted, to a blocked coronary artery.
The grafted artery or vein bypasses (that is, goes around) the blocked portion of the coronary artery. This improves blood flow to the heart.
Compared with CABG, some advantages of angioplasty are that it:
However, angioplasty isn't for everyone. For some people, CABG might be a better option. For example, CABG might be used to treat people who have severe CHD, narrowing of the left main coronary artery, or poor function in the lower left heart chamber.
Your doctor will consider many factors when deciding which treatment(s) to recommend.
Angioplasty also is used as an emergency treatment for heart attack. As plaque builds up in the coronary arteries, it can rupture. This can cause a blood clot to form on the surface of the plaque and block blood flow to the heart muscle.
Quickly opening the blockage restores blood flow and reduces heart muscle damage during a heart attack.
Benefits of Coronary Angioplasty
The main aim of Coronary Angioplasty is to widen the narrowed blood vessels, in order to increase the flow of blood to the heart. Another prime benefit is that it also decreases the risk of a heart attack, reduces the symptoms of angina, and also considerably slows down the progress of coronary artery diseases.
What To Expect Before Coronary Angioplasty
A cardiologist will perform the procedure who specializes in diagnosing and treating heart diseases and conditions. If angioplasty isn’t done as an emergency treatment, you’ll meet with your cardiologist beforehand. He or she will go over your medical history (including the medicines you take), do a physical exam, and talk to you about the procedure.
Your doctor also may recommend tests, such as blood tests, an EKG (electrocardiogram), and a chest x-ray.
Once the angioplasty is scheduled, your doctor will advise you:
Even though angioplasty takes only 1-2 hours, you’ll likely need to stay in the hospital overnight. Your doctor may advise you to not drive for a certain amount of time after the procedure. Thus, you’ll probably need to arrange a ride home.
What to expect after Coronary Angioplasty ?
Angioplasty vs. Bypass Surgery
It is not easy for a patient to make a choice between angioplasty and bypass surgery on his own, which happens due to various factors like the condition of the disease in an individual. The doctor also checks the symptoms of the patient along with his overall heart function and co-existing medical conditions.
In case the narrowing in the arteries is serious about reducing the blood flow in the heart of the patient then angioplasty is recommended. But if the patient has various blockages, bypass surgery is certainly better.
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