What is Angioplasty?
Angioplasty is a medical procedure used to treat blocked or narrowed blood vessels in the body, particularly the coronary arteries in the heart. The procedure involves the insertion of a thin, flexible tube called a catheter into an artery, usually in the groin or arm. The catheter is then threaded through the artery to the site of the blockage, where a small balloon at the end of the catheter is inflated to widen the narrowed artery. This allows for improved blood flow to the affected area.
Angioplasty is typically performed under local anesthesia, and patients are often sedated during the procedure. It is a minimally invasive procedure, meaning that it does not require major surgery or general anesthesia. As a result, patients generally experience less pain, bleeding, and recovery time than with traditional open surgeries.
The procedure was first developed in the 1970s and has since become a widely used treatment for coronary artery disease (CAD), which is the leading cause of heart disease and heart attacks. CAD occurs when cholesterol and other substances build up in the walls of the coronary arteries, restricting blood flow to the heart muscle. This can cause chest pain, shortness of breath, and other symptoms.
There are several types of angioplasty procedures, including:
- Balloon angioplasty: This is the most common type of angioplasty. The catheter with the balloon is inserted through a small incision into an artery and guided to the site of the blockage. The balloon is then inflated to compress the plaque and widen the artery.
- Laser angioplasty: This type of angioplasty uses a catheter with a laser at the end to vaporize the plaque in the artery.
- Atherectomy: This type of angioplasty involves using a catheter with a rotating shaver or laser to remove the plaque from the artery.
- Stenting: This is a procedure in which a small metal mesh tube is inserted into the artery to hold it open after the balloon is inflated.
Angioplasty is generally considered a safe and effective procedure, but there are some risks associated with it. These include bleeding, infection, blood clots, and damage to the artery or surrounding tissues. In rare cases, patients may experience a heart attack or stroke during or after the procedure.
Following an angioplasty, patients are usually monitored for a short period in the hospital to ensure that there are no complications. They may also be prescribed medications to prevent blood clots, reduce inflammation, or lower cholesterol levels.
Overall, angioplasty is an important treatment option for individuals with blocked or narrowed arteries. By improving blood flow to the heart and other parts of the body, it can help reduce the risk of heart disease, heart attacks, and other related health complications.