Coronary angioplasty, which is also called percutaneous coronary intervention is a surgical procedure carried out to widen narrowed sections of heart, i.e. the clogged heart arteries which are severely blocked due to the presence of cholesterol, cells or other substances (plaque). This blockage in the arteries causes coronary heart disease. The coronary heart disease reduces blood flow towards the heart causing high discomfort in the chest. If the blood clot is severe, the blood may not reach the heart at all, which may cause a heart attack, which can lead to death.
Coronary angioplasty is generally carried out when a high cholesterol substance called plaque builds up in the coronary arteries. This condition is called atherosclerosis. This condition leads to clogged arteries leading to coronary heart disease which can lead to heart attack. Coronary heart disease is triggered by several health factors like:
• Age (more common in people lying between 45-55 years of age)
• High blood pressure
• Elevated cholesterol levels
• Sedentary lifestyle
• Unhealthy Diet
• Emotional stress
• Obstructive sleep apnea
• High alcohol consumption
• Individuals are also at higher risk for arteriosclerosis if they are older (greater than 45 years for men and 55 years for women) or if they have a positive family history of coronary heart disease.
In coronary angioplasty, a thin tube, called a catheter is threaded into the artery in the leg or the arm which is then guided to the heart after which a tiny balloon is inflated in the blocked artery. Therefore, coronary angioplasty is a good treatment since it helps to improve the blood supply to the heart and also reduces the risk of coronary heart disease and cardiac arrest.
When your heart does not get enough supply of blood from the arteries, the body may face a variety of symptoms. Angina (chest pain) is the most common symptom of coronary heart disease. Other signs and symptoms of coronary heart disease that cause discomfort to the patient are:
• chest pain
• pain in arms or shoulders
• shortness of breath
• weakness in the body
• easy exertion without any hard physical activity
• abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmia)
• jaw pain
• neck and back pain
• shortness of breath without any chest pain
When you experience symptoms of coronary heart disease, it is advised that you rush to a cardiologist as soon as possible without any delay. The cardiologist may use several diagnostic techniques like :
• Electrocardiogram (ECG)
• CT heart scan
Cardiologists mostly go with Angiography, which used to observe the blood flow through your heart. An angiogram, which is a special dye is inserted into your coronary arteries through the catheter. Coronary angioplasty which is often done with a stent which is a tiny wire-mesh tube that is inserted into the artery so that the blood flow is maintained and the artery does not close. Coronary angioplasty is a minimally invasive procedure. The following steps occur during this procedure:
• The cardiologist starts with injecting general anaesthesia.
• After it has kicked in properly, the cardiologist starts by making a small incision in the groin area in order to reach an artery. Your cardiologist uses a thin and flexible tube called catheter which is inserted into the artery through the incision.
• The cardiologist guides the catheter to the north of your body, towards your heart in order to reach the blocked coronary arteries.
• Once the catheter reaches there, the doctor uses a type of X-ray called fluoroscopy in order to see the coronary arteries and the extent of their blockage.
• Once the cardiologist gets a fair idea of the arteries, he may then pass a small wire through the catheter. This second catheter follows the already guided wire and has a small balloon hinged to it. Once the balloon reaches the blocked coronary artery, the balloon is inflated.
• During this balloon inflation, the cardiologist also inserts the stent so that the artery doesn't close and proper blood flow is retained. After the stent is placed in the right place and position in the artery, the cardiologist removes the catheter and leaves the stent there.
Post Coronary angioplasty surgery procedure, you may feel a little itchiness and soreness around the incision area. This can be treated with over the counter painkillers. In Coronary angioplasty, you would be also given blood-thinning medications so that the blood does not coagulate and helps the new stent to adjust. The cardiologist will make your stay in the hospital over a night and make sure that there are no risks and side effects after the Coronary angioplasty surgery. Some of the risks and side effects of Coronary angioplasty may include:
• Allergy to medications
• Pain in the incision area
• Breathing problems- very rare
After you get back home, the doctor may prescribe you to follow a lifestyle with big changes. You may have to strictly give up habits that are seen as a risk factor for Coronary heart disease. You would have to:
• stay physically active
• eat good healthy food
• avoid and manage stress
• control health conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol