Percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA) or Coronary Angioplasty
Coronary angioplasty, also called percutaneous coronary intervention, is a procedure used to open clogged heart arteries. Angioplasty involves temporarily inserting and inflating a tiny balloon where your artery is clogged to help widen the artery.
Angioplasty is often combined with the permanent placement of a small wire mesh tube called a stent to help prop the artery open and decrease its chance of narrowing again. Some stents are coated with medication to help keep your artery open (drug-eluting stents), while others are not (bare-metal stents).
Angioplasty can improve symptoms of blocked arteries, such as chest pain and shortness of breath. Angioplasty can also be used during a heart attack to quickly open a blocked artery and reduce the amount of damage to your heart.
Although angioplasty is a less invasive way to open clogged arteries than bypass surgery is, the procedure still carries some risks.
The most common angioplasty risks include:
- Re-narrowing of your artery (restenosis). With angioplasty alone — without stent placement — restenosis happens in about 30 percent of cases. Stents were developed to reduce restenosis. Bare-metal stents reduce the chance of restenosis to about 15 percent, and the use of drug-eluting stents reduces the risk to less than 10 percent.
Blood clots. Blood clots can form within stents even after the procedure. These clots can close the artery, causing a heart attack. It's important to take aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), prasugrel (Effient) or another medication that helps reduce the risk of blood clots exactly as prescribed to decrease the chance of clots forming in your stent.
Talk to your doctor about how long you'll need to take these medications. Never discontinue these medications without discussing it with your doctor.
- Bleeding. You may have bleeding in your leg or arm where a catheter was inserted. Usually this simply results in a bruise, but sometimes serious bleeding occurs and may require a blood transfusion or surgical procedures.
What are the benefits of a coronary angioplasty?
In most cases, the blood flow through the coronary arteries improves after an angioplasty. Many people find their symptoms get significantly better and they're able to do more than they could before the procedure.
If you've had a heart attack, an angioplasty can increase your chances of surviving more than clot-busting medication (thrombolysis). The procedure can also reduce your chances of having another heart attack in the future.