What is Angioplasty

Angioplasty is a term composed of Latin words 'angio' and 'plasty' that means 'vessel' and 'repair' respectively. Cardiologists define it as a surgical procedure that is used to widen narrowed or blocked blood vessels in order to restore normal blood flow through the coronary arteries.

Coronary arteries are important part of a human heart because these are responsible for regulating the blood flow in and out of the heart. Any damage in the heart muscles within the walls of arteries can cause severe health conditions that can be fatal. The condition usually occurs when cholesterol, fat, and minerals from the blood get deposited on the inner surfaces of the artery causing blood clots. This clot can further enhance and reduce the passage of blood flow and cause blockage in the artery. This blockage can result is death and hence it becomes very important to remove the blockage by widening the narrowed vessel or by unblocking the blocked section to get the normal blood flow.

It is a procedure to insert a long and thin plastic tube known as a balloon catheter into the clogged blood vessel. The first step requires a small incision either at the elbow or groin from where the catheter is inserted into the body. Then, imaging techniques are used to guide the catheter to move and reach the blocked vessel. The catheter is placed in such a way that its tip is at the point of the blockage in the artery or vein. After the catheter reaches the point of blockage, the balloon is inflated, which in turn, stretches the clogged artery and opens it. Finally, the surgeon deflates the balloon and removes it from the body. In an angioplasty procedure, sometimes stents are permanently placed in the opened artery to reduce the chances of reoccurrence of new blockages.

Angioplasty is relatively a safe procedure. However, in some cases, there can be excessive loss of blood, rupturing of the blood vessel, allergic reaction to the X-ray dye, and abnormal heart beats. In extreme situations, there can be a failure to remove the blockage, heart stroke, or the amputation of the body part.

However, the benefits outweigh the risks associated with the procedure. In most of the cases, angioplasty can be performed with local anesthesia. It can be easily repeated on the same person to remove new blockages, if any. The recovery period is short and therefore the patient can resume its normal life soon. Moreover, the procedure does not require any major surgical incision. It is also a low-cost yet highly advanced technique that reduces the risk of death among people. In many cases of blocked coronary arteries, it removes the need for bypass surgery.

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