Coronary angioplasty is a percutaneous coronary intervention. It is used to open the blocked heart arteries. This procedure involves using a balloon to widen the blocked arteries, which enhances blood flow to the heart. The procedure is generally combined with a stent placement procedure to reduce the risk of re-narrowing the arteries. These stents may be coated with drugs (drug-eluting stents) to maintain the opening of the artery.
Coronary angioplasty is a minimally invasive procedure that involves inserting a thin tube (catheter) with a balloon at the end into narrowed or blocked arteries in the heart. The balloon is inflated to widen the artery and restore proper blood flow.
Coronary angioplasty is typically recommended for individuals with narrowed or blocked coronary arteries due to conditions like coronary artery disease (CAD) or unstable angina. It aims to relieve symptoms such as chest pain (angina) and improve blood flow to prevent heart attacks.
In many cases, stents placed during coronary angioplasty can effectively treat blocked arteries without requiring bypass grafting (open-heart surgery). However, this decision ultimately depends on individual circumstances such as multiple blockages, location of blockages, vessel size limitations, or other complex factors best evaluated by your cardiologist or cardiac surgeon.
During the procedure, a thin tube called a catheter is inserted through an artery in your wrist or groin and guided to the blocked artery in your heart. A deflated balloon attached to the catheter is then inflated at the blockage site, pushing aside fatty deposits and widening the artery. In some cases, a stent may be placed to keep the artery open.
Possible complications can include bleeding at the insertion site, damage to blood vessels, allergic reactions contrast dye used during imaging tests, irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia), kidney problems related to dye usage, or rare instances of heart attack during or after surgery.
While both procedures aim for similar outcomes — improving blood flow to the heart — they differ in terms of invasiveness and approach. Coronary angioplasty is a minimally invasive procedure performed by threading a catheter through an artery, while open-heart surgery involves making an incision in the chest to access the heart.
The choice between coronary angioplasty and open-heart surgery depends on various factors such as the extent and severity of blockages, overall health condition, patient preference, and consultation with your healthcare provider. Your doctor will evaluate your specific situation to determine which option is most suitable for you.
Like any medical procedure, there are risks associated with coronary angioplasty; however, it has proven to be generally safe and effective when performed by experienced healthcare professionals under appropriate conditions.
Coronary angioplasty offers several advantages compared to open-heart surgery including:
However, it's essential to note that not all cases can be treated with angioplasty alone; some severe blockages may require open-heart surgery for better outcomes.