Angioplasty is a non-surgical procedure, which opens blocked coronary arteries and restores blood flow to the heart.
The heart is a muscular organ at the centre of the circulatory system that contracts and relaxes rhythmically to pump blood into different blood vessels, which carries it to the different parts of the body.
The coronary arteries supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart.If any of the coronary arteries become narrow or blocked, due to cholesterol buildup and fatty deposits (plaque), the blood flow to that part of the heart becomes slow or gets blocked as a result. The plaque accumulates over time and the arteries harden. The hardened arteries are unable to expand to their fullest capacity, thereby reducing the flow of oxygen and blood supply to parts of the heart.
When a particular part of the heart does not receive enough oxygen or blood, tissue damage or death may occur in that part, unless the blockage is quickly removed. This can result in a condition called Coronary Atherosclerosis or in simpler terms, clogged arteries, which can lead to chest pain (also known as angina), or even a stroke, or a heart attack.
What are the different types of angioplasty?
There are different forms of angioplasty. The type of angioplasty the cardiologist chooses to perform varies according to the following factors:
- the location of the block/plaque in the heart
- the shape of the block (plaque)
- whether the plaque responsible for the clogging of the artery is hard or soft
Depending on the factors mentioned above, the cardiologist may recommend any of the following types of angioplasty:
- Balloon Angioplasty
- Balloon Angioplasty with Stent Insertion
- Laser Angioplasty
Before conducting an angioplasty, your doctor will need to locate the narrowed or blocked passages in your arteries through an angiography.
During this procedure, a small tube called a catheter will be inserted into an artery (usually in your groin or arm) and then threaded to the problematic area, such as the coronary arteries.
Then a special dye, which shows up on X-ray images, will be injected into your body through the catheter, allowing your doctor to see the blood flow in your arteries.
Next, during the angioplasty, a catheter with a balloon on its tip will be inserted and threaded to the blocked artery.
The balloon will be expanded to flatten the plaque against the artery wall and improve blood flow, and then deflated and removed.
In some cases, the deflated balloon catheter will be covered with a small wire mesh tube called a stent, which stays in the body permanently to keep the arteries open after the catheter is removed.
Risks Of Angioplasty
Though uncommon, some serious complications can occur from a coronary angioplasty, including:
- Blood vessel damage and bleeding
- Allergenic reactions or kidney damage from the angiography dye
- Irregular heart beat
- Heart attack
- Artery collapse
- Scar tissue and blood clots around stents