What Is Coronary Angioplasty?
Coronary angioplasty is an interventional cardiology procedure to open up blocked or narrowed arteries. When plaque builds up over time, it can cause your arteries to harden and narrow, a condition known as atherosclerosis. This condition can affect any artery in the entire body. When it occurs in the coronary arteries it is called coronary heart disease (CHD) or coronary artery disease. This affects over 1 million people in the United States each and every year.
Angioplasty can restore blood flow to the heart if the coronary arteries have become narrowed or blocked because of CHD and is used for the following:
- Improve symptoms of CHD, such as angina and shortness of breath. (Angina is chest pain or discomfort.)
- Reduce damage to the heart muscle caused by a heart attack.
- Reduce the risk of death in some patients.
How Is Coronary Angioplasty Done?
Before coronary angioplasty is done, your doctor will need to know the location and extent of the blockages in your coronary (heart) arteries. Using a test dye and an x-ray, your doctor will take imaging of your artery. A catheter is inserted in the groin and threaded to the coronary artery. They will use this imaging to help plan your angioplasty.
During the actual procedure, a catheter is inserted through the groin again. The cardiologist will specifically use a balloon catheter positioned at the blockage. It is then expanded to push the plaque out of the way and restore blood flow. Then a stent is then put into place to prevent any recurring issue.
How To Prepare For a Coronary Angioplasty:
- No food or water for 6-8 hours before the test and procedure
- Disclose any medications you may be taking to your doctor
- Prepare to stay overnight for observation
- Arrange for transportation as it may not be safe for you to drive immediately after the procedure.
- Ask your cardiologist any questions or concerns to help minimize stress and anxiety