Angioplasty is a common nonsurgical procedure also referred to as percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), balloon angioplasty, and coronary artery balloon dilation. Angioplasty is considered in cases of coronary heart disease, where a waxy substance called plaque has built up in the coronary arteries. Plaque hardens and narrows the arteries and limits the amount of oxygen-rich blood that reaches the heart, causing angina (chest pain). Plaque can also rupture and form clots that can block the flow of blood, leading to a heart attack. Angioplasty restores the flow of blood to the heart by widening narrowed sections of coronary artery.
Stents are small wire mesh or fabric tubes often placed into arteries during angioplasty. Stents, which are permanent, keep the artery propped open. Some stents are coated with medication that is released into the artery to help prevent blockage from recurring.
What does it involve?
The goal of angioplasty and stent placement is to widen narrowed coronary arteries and improve blood flow to the heart.
Angioplasty and stenting may be scheduled in advance or performed on an emergency basis immediately following a heart attack. You will be sedated by intravenous medication but awake during angioplasty.
The cardiologist begins angioplasty by making a small hole in your arm or groin with a needle, then inserting a thin, flexible guide wire. The cardiologist will insert a thin tube called a catheter over the guide wire into your artery and remove the guide wire. Dye will be injected into the catheter to help the doctor image your arteries and blockages. Next, another guide wire is inserted, followed by a balloon catheter. The balloon catheter is threaded past the blockage in your artery, and the balloon is expanded to compress the plaque. If the cardiologist is placing a stent, the stent will be wrapped around the balloon catheter, and will be placed when the balloon is expanded. When the catheter is removed, the stent will remain in place to keep the artery open.
After angioplasty, you will need to spend a few hours or possibly the night in the hospital. You can expect to return to work and resume normal activities after about one week. Your cardiologist may recommend cardiac rehabilitation after angioplasty.
According to studies, angioplasty effectively opens the coronary arteries in 90 percent of people who receive the procedure.
Angioplasty carries risks including bleeding, blood clots, damage to the artery, severe reactions to medication or dye, heart attack or stroke, and death. If the cardiologist finds extensive blockages during angioplasty, you may require a coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) instead of angioplasty.
If blockages worsen or scar tissue forms on stents, you may need to repeat angioplasty and have additional stents placed.
Angioplasty and stents do not cure the underlying coronary artery disease. Over time, the coronary arteries can become clogged again. After angioplasty, it is more important than ever to lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure, manage weight, and control diabetes. You will need to stop smoking, reduce your dietary fat intake, and get more exercise to prevent further complications.
For more details about this treatment, visit:
Coronary angioplasty and stents – Mayo Clinic
What Is Percutaneous Coronary Intervention? – National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Understanding the Benefits & Risks of Angioplasty and Stenting – SecondsCount.org
Coronary Balloon Angioplasty and Stents (Percutaneous Coronary Intervention, PCI) – MedicineNet.com