Angioplasty, also known as percutaneous coronary intervention, is a procedure that opens or widens clogged or narrowed coronary arteries to restore blood flow. Blocked arteries result from a build-up of fat and cholesterol in the arterial walls (atherosclerosis). Angioplasty offers a less invasive method of restoring blood flow to the heart without the need for open surgery.
How Is an Angioplasty Performed?
During an angioplasty, the doctor will insert a long and thin catheter through a blood vessel and into the blocked coronary artery. Usually, the catheter is inserted into a blood vessel in the groin, wrist or arm. A tiny balloon is found at the tip of the catheter, which will be inflated at the narrowed/clogged area of the heart artery. This will prop the artery open, thus restoring normal blood flow.
Benefits of Angioplasty
Aside from treating blocked coronary arteries, angioplasty offers additional benefits to patients in that it can:
- minimise damage to the heart muscle during a heart attack by restoring normal blood flow to the heart
- mitigate symptoms of coronary artery disease such as shortness of breath, chest pain, and fatigue
- reduce the chances of a person having a stroke
- reduce the risk of a heart attack
- improve kidney function
- improve blood flow to the legs, which can help prevent gangrene and the need for amputation
- offer a less invasive and lower-risk procedure
Who Is a Good Candidate for Angioplasty?
If you are diagnosed with atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease, your cardiologist may recommend you for an angioplasty. The procedure is also recommended to those suffering from angina (chest pain) and those who’ve had a heart attack or at risk of having a heart attack.