Coronary Angioplasty

A Procedure to Open Blocked Heart Arteries

What is Coronary Angioplasty?

Coronary angioplasty, also known as percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), is a medical procedure used to open blocked or narrowed arteries in the heart.

What type of procedure is it?

Coronary angioplasty is a minimally invasive procedure that involves threading a thin, flexible tube called a catheter through an artery in the groin or wrist to the heart. Once the catheter is in place, a small balloon is inflated to open the blocked artery. In some cases, a stent may also be placed to keep the artery open.

How long does Coronary Angioplasty usually take?

Angioplasty can take up to several hours, depending on the difficulty and the number of obstructions.

When is it recommended to have this procedure done?

Coronary angioplasty is a procedure performed to treat atherosclerosis, a type of heart disease caused by the buildup of fatty plaques in the blood vessels of the heart. It is recommended when symptoms of heart disease, such as chest pain, shortness of breath, or abnormal heart rhythms, are present, and when tests such as cardiac catheterization reveal blockages or narrowing in the arteries.

What happens during Coronary Angioplasty?

The procedure helps unclog blocked heart arteries. Often, a small tube called a stent is placed to keep the artery open and reduce the chances of it getting blocked again. The procedure is done by accessing an artery in the groin, arm, or wrist area. Most of the time, the patient is awake or given medication to relax. Live x-rays and a special dye are used during the procedure.

What do you need to do before the procedure?

Before scheduling an angioplasty, the patient may need to undergo some tests, including a chest x-ray, electrocardiogram, and blood tests. They may also need a special imaging test called coronary angiography to check if the arteries leading to the heart are blocked and if angioplasty can help. As part of the preparation, the doctor may adjust the dosage of medications or ask the patient to stop taking certain medications. Typically, the patient will need to fast for 6 to 8 hours before the procedure.

What do you need to do after Coronary Angioplasty?

After coronary angioplasty, you will need to lie flat and keep the insertion site still for several hours. You may be monitored for any complications, such as bleeding or allergic reactions. You will also need to take medications, such as aspirin and blood thinners, to help prevent blood clots.

What are the post-procedural recommendations?

After the procedure, patients should rest and avoid strenuous activity for a few days. They should keep the insertion site clean and dry and report any unusual symptoms or signs of infection to their doctor. It’s also important to live a healthy lifestyle by exercising, quitting smoking, eating a heart-healthy diet, and reducing stress.

What are the possible complications, and how likely are they to occur?

Possible complications of coronary angioplasty include bleeding, infection, allergic reactions, damage to blood vessels or other organs, and the need for repeat procedures. These complications are rare, occurring in less than 1% of cases.

How long will you need to stay in the hospital after the procedure?

Most patients can go home the same day or the next day after the procedure.

How long will it take for you to fully recover?

Patients can typically resume normal activities within a few days to a week after the procedure, depending on the complexity of the case.

In conclusion, coronary angioplasty is a safe and effective treatment option for patients with heart disease. By opening blocked or narrowed arteries in the heart, it can improve blood flow and reduce the risk of heart attack or other complications. While the procedure does carry some risks, they are generally low, and the benefits of improved heart health can be significant. If you have symptoms of heart disease, talk to your doctor about whether coronary angioplasty may be an appropriate treatment option for you.

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