Angioplasty: What Is It?
Essentially, an angioplasty is a surgical procedure done to open the blood vessels that supply blood to the muscles of your heart. These blood vessels are known as “coronary arteries”. Angioplasty is often performed immediately after a heart attack.
Having an angioplasty after the first few hours following a heart attack can significantly reduce the risk of complications. Timing is extremely crucial. The faster that you receive treatment for a heart attack, the lower the risk of complications, heart failure, and death.
However, angioplasty isn’t only performed immediately after a heart attack. It can also be used to relieve the symptoms of heart disease, even if you haven’t had a heart attack.
The Benefits of Angioplasty
Angioplasty is an efficient way to quickly get the blood flowing to the heart again. The damage to your heart muscle will be significantly lower the sooner blood supply is restored. Angioplasty can also relieve chest pain and may prevent shortness of breath. Furthermore, the National Health Service states that angioplasty may decrease the risk of another heart attack. It may also reduce the need for more invasive open-heart surgeries.
Angioplasty is performed while the patient is under local anesthesia. First, an incision is made in your arm or groin. Next, a catheter (with a tiny inflatable balloon on the end) is inserted into your artery. Using special dyes, video, and X-ray, our doctors guide the catheter up into the blocked coronary artery. Once it’s in the right position, the balloon will then be inflated to widen the artery. The plaque (fatty deposits) will be pushed against the walls of the artery, clearing the way for blood flow.
For some cases, the catheter is also equipped with a stent which is used to hold the blood vessel open. It can be left in place after the balloon is deflated and removed.
Note: Just like any other medical procedure, angioplasty comes with a certain amount of risk. You may have an allergic reaction to the dye, anesthesia, or some of the other materials used for the procedure. Other risks associated with angioplasty include bruising, clotting, or bleeding at the point of insertion; irregular heartbeat; scar tissue forming in the stent; and an infection.
After the Procedure
Our doctors will explain how you can maintain a heart-healthy lifestyle. They can also prescribe certain medications to aid your recovery. Regular exercise, enough rest, and eating a well-balanced diet are highly crucial, not just during recovery, but throughout your lifespan. Healthy lifestyle choices can also significantly reduce your risk of having a heart attack (or another attack if you’ve previously had one).