Heart and Vascular

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Angioplasty procedures is used to open all blocked arteries (also known as coronary arteries) in the heart, eliminating the need for a more serious open-heart surgery. Dye is injected in the coronary arteries, which helps cardiologists determine any blockage present. Once located, doctors can then perform an angioplasty procedure or a balloon angioplasty with the help of a special catheter. A stent can also be placed during the procedure.

Angioplasty procedures significantly improve the oxygen and blood flow to the heart. Cardiologists typically start a normal angioplasty procedure by choosing an artery that will be designated as a catheter entry site. Once a site is already chosen, it is cleaned thoroughly using a special disinfectant. It may also be shaved before doctors can start numbing the area. A normal angioplasty procedure can usually take one to three hours, but it can vary based on the patient’s condition.

Angioplasty Procedure Process

The angioplasty procedure begins with a cardiologist inserting the introducer, a small and hollow plastic tube right into your artery. Patients experience some slight pressure or discomfort as the introducer is inserted into the artery guided usually by needles. It is followed through by a guide wire and a balloon catheter, and is inserted very carefully all the way to the blockage. The catheter’s progress is viewed on x-ray screens. Patients are able to communicate with their cardiologist during an angioplasty procedure.

It is common in an angioplasty procedure for cardiologists to encounter clots blocking the arteries along the way. Medications are used to neutralize such clots before continuing. When the balloon catheter is in place, it is inflated and deflated in succession for several times. Blood flow is briefly blocked during inflation, and patients may experience slight chest discomfort. Medicine can be given to counter the pain. An angioplasty procedure is successful once the blockage is neutralized and the blood flow is properly restored.

Depending on the blockage situation, cardiologists may decide to place stents in their patient’s arteries during an angioplasty procedure. A stent is an expandable device mounted on a catheter, similar to the device used in an angioplasty procedure. Once a stent is properly place, it will support the artery and help keep it open for a long time. Over time, tissue will naturally grow over the stent, which helps keep it in place.

When the Angioplasty procedure is completed, cardiologists remove the catheter, but leave the introducer in place for a certain time in case the artery starts closing. If patients begin to experience back pains, chest pains, and other unusual feelings after the angioplasty procedure, it may indicate the coronary arteries are starting to close up. To avoid this occurring, patients are highly encouraged to communicate regularly with their cardiologist and primary care physician to monitor the progress and identify any problems that may surface.