What is it?
An angioplasty is an endovascular procedure to dilate the arteries that make the blood flow to the heart. Over time, fat-laden plaques tend to build up within the blood vessels, narrowing and hardening the arteries. An angioplasty can restore direct blood circulation to the heart whenever your arteries are too narrow or too obstructed due to coronary heart disease.
What is it for?
Angioplasty can be done to:
What does it involve?
This procedure is less invasive than traditional coronary artery bypass graft surgery. It doesn’t involve incisions or general anaesthetics, and recovery is quicker when compared to other surgeries.
Before doing an angioplasty, you will need to have a coronary angiography to determine exactly where the procedure needs to be done. You will be under local anaesthetics, so during the coronary angiography you will be awake. The whole procedure lasts between 45 minutes and one hour.
An introducer sheath is inserted into the blood vessel: this sort of catheter will perform a coronary angiography first, and then the angioplasty itself. The catheter is equipped with a small “balloon, which will reach the obstructed area and will then be inflated, thus restoring a normal blood flow. Finally, a small cylindrical mesh stent will be inserted onto the obstructed area to ensure a normal blood flow over time.
After an angioplasty, the recovery is relatively quick. You may be in hospital for 24 to 48 hours. After that, you’ll need to take some anticoagulants to avoid the risk of thrombosis.
Other treatment options
If you have obstructed or narrow arteries, other treatment options include pharmacotherapy and coronary artery bypass graft surgery.