The word “angioplasty” means stretching open a blocked artery with the help of a balloon. Coronary arteries are the vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the heart. The heart arteries can either get narrowed or completely blocked due to various reasons including plaque, cholesterol deposition, etc. Coronary angioplasty is a surgical procedure, which is performed to relieve blocked or narrowed arteries. It is used to treat coronary heart diseases by normalizing healthy blood flow to the heart.
- Coronary angioplasty is not a big surgical procedure. It involves a small incision in the arm or leg artery to insert a thin threaded catheter. A wire passed through it later inflates a tiny balloon present at the end of the catheter in the blocked artery. Angioplasty is also referred to as percutaneous coronary intervention.
- Coronary catheterization or coronary angiography is performed prior to angioplasty to locate the blockage in the target artery.
- Coronary angioplasty relieves the discomfort of heart patients with blocked arteries and brings down the risk of heart attacks in them.
- Coronary angioplasty also decreases the symptoms related to angina pectoris by immediate improvement of blood flow to the heart and it also retards the progression of coronary artery disease.
- Stents are inserted into the arteries most of the times when a coronary angioplasty is done. A stent is a small and expandable mesh-like tube. This mesh-like structure allows the cells of the arterial blood vessels to grow into and around it, to secure its position. They also prevent restenosis (narrowing of the artery again, after stretching them open).
- Stents used may either be a bare metal stent or a medicine coated drug eluting stent.
- If coronary angioplasty is not undergone when advised by the doctor, the disease may accelerate to more advanced stages. Advanced stages demand more invasive surgical procedures like bypass surgery, emergency open heart surgery, etc. So, it is wise to choose coronary angioplasty while there is still time.
- Coronary angioplasty is a much quicker and easier procedure than a complete bypass surgery and can be performed using local anesthesia itself. This means that general anesthesia is redundant in this surgery ensuring faster and less-painful recovery.
- Coronary angioplasty has lower risks as a surgical procedure and no major complications are seen post the angioplasty procedure.
- Coronary angioplasty helps provide faster relief from coronary heart disease when compared to lifestyle modifications and medical drug prescription.
- Coronary angioplasty should be the treatment of choice if:
- 1 to 3 arteries are narrowed or blocked, to give rise to ischemia (reduced blood flow) of heart muscles. This is only if the blocked arteries are suited for the angioplasty procedure.
- Patient suffers from severe and frequent angina, which cannot be cured with lifestyle changes or relevant medications.
Note: It is important to note that coronary angioplasty will not completely cure the coronary artery disease. Lifestyle modification like following a healthy diet, staying away from smoking tobacco, and following a regular exercise program need to be practised to maintain your coronary health.