What is Coronary Angioplasty?
Coronary artery disease, or hardening of the arteries, is the most common form of heart disease. It can coexist with other forms of heart disease such as a weakened heart muscle or diseases of the heart valves.

Cardiac catheterization is a diagnostic procedure that provides your doctor with precise information about your particular heart condition, allowing much more individualized treatment.

The results of your cardiac catheterization may indicate that you have a narrowed artery that can be opened by angioplasty and/or stenting.

Angioplasty is sometimes referred to as a PTCA - percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty, or balloon angioplasty. It is a non-surgical way to treat artery build-up (atherosclerosis). Angioplasty is commonly performed with stenting, in which a balloon is used to expand a metal sleeve inside the artery.

What Do Angioplasty and Stenting Do?
Angioplasty is a non-surgical treatment designed to open clogged arteries. This procedure is done after the doctor has seen the angiogram (picture) that shows where the arteries are blocked. Angioplasty, with or without stenting, opens the arteries to restore blood flow.

What Should I Expect?
EKG (electrocardiagram)
Blood tests
Medical history and exam
Chest X-ray

You will receive specific instructions about the food you may have. Generally, you will be allowed nothing to eat or drink four hours before the procedure.

Some suggestions to help you prepare:
Pack a small bag of overnight clothing and clothing for the next day
Do not bring any valuables
Bring a list of your medications (with exact names and dosages)
Arrange for someone to drive you home
Be sure to mention if you are allergic to X-ray dyes or shellfish, or if you have problems taking aspirin or blood thinners
Empty your bladder for comfort
You may wear your dentures, hearing aids, or glasses

What Happens the Day of the Angioplasty?
The procedure is done in a catheterization laboratory (cath lab). It begins with a thin, flexible tube (the catheter) which the physician inserts through a sheath (previously inserted) in your arm or leg and maneuvers toward your heart.

A radio-opaque dye is injected (refer video/visual), which allows the physician to view the coronary arteries. Blood pressure recordings may be made in the various chambers of your heart, and valve function can be examined. Pictures will be taken with specialized cameras.

When the blockage is located, a balloon catheter is placed in the narrowed artery and slowly inflated to press the fatty deposits against the artery walls. This allows the blood to flow more freely to the heart muscle.

In many cases, superior results can be obtained if the cardiologist inserts a stent into the area of the blockage and expands it with the balloon. A stent is an expandable wire mesh tube, sized to fit your artery. Once in place, a stent can provide a better channel for blood flow through the artery, with a better long-term result.

What Happens After the Angioplasty?
You will be asked to drink plenty of fluids to help flush the dye contrast out of your system. Later, when the sheath is removed, a sandbag or pressure bandage will be placed on the insertion site to prevent bleeding. You will remain lying down for several hours but if done by radial route then patient can walk immediately after angioplasty. (refer video on radial)

What Can I Do When I Return Home?
Avoid heavy lifting and do only light activities for a few days.

When Should I Call My Doctor?
You should call your doctor if:
The insertion site bleeds
You feel chest pain or discomfort
Your arm or leg (at the insertion site) feels cold or numb
The bruising or swelling gets worse or increases
You have a fever, or signs of infection (redness or oozing) appear at the insertion site
You have any other unusual symptoms

How Will I Feel After the Angioplasty?
Your doctor will talk to you about the amount of improvement in the artery opening and the possibility of your symptoms returning, medications, restrictions, and changes in daily habits to reduce the risk of more arteries narrowing. You'll also be told when to return for follow-up visits.

What are the Risks?
Risk is bare minimum with certain diagnostic procedures. In most cases they are relatively minor. Please ask your doctor to discuss the risks and benefits so that you are fully informed about any tests you may have.

It is important to be your own best health advocate. A good way to do that is by committing to routine physical exams and diagnostic tests as often as is recommended by your cardiac specialist. Early detection of heart disease is the key to effective treatment.

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