Dr Sunil Kapoor
What is an angioplasty?
Angioplasty is a way to open a blocked coronary artery and restore blood flow to your heart. It can also help prevent heart problems by widening an artery that has been narrowed by plaque. Plaque is a fatty build up that can block your arteries.
Your doctor may call it percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI). Having angioplasty during or soon after a heart attack can help prevent further damage to your heart. It also decreases your chance of dying from a heart attack or having other problems, such as heart failure.
How it is done
Before angioplasty, the doctor will do a test called cardiac catheterisation (or coronary angiography). For this test, a tiny tube called a catheter is threaded through an artery in your arm or groin and up into your heart. A dye is then sent through the catheter. The dye makes your coronary arteries show up on a screen so the doctor can see if they are blocked. If an artery is blocked, your doctor will do an angioplasty.
During angioplasty, the doctor threads a catheter into the blocked artery. At the end of the catheter is a tiny balloon. The doctor inflates the balloon inside the artery to open the blocked area. The doctor may put a stent in your artery during angioplasty. A stent is a small tube that expands against the walls of the artery. This can keep small pieces of plaque from breaking off and causing a heart attack. It can also keep the artery from closing again (restenosis). The doctor may use a type of stent called a drug-eluting stent. These stents are coated with medicines that keep cells from growing around the stent. This helps keep the artery open.
Angioplasty doesn’t require a large cut (incision). You’ll take medicine to help you relax, but you’ll be awake during the procedure.
(The writer is a senior consultant cardiologist practicing at Care Hospital, Hyderabad)