Angioplasty is a specialised procedure performed in a Cath lab (cardiac catheterisation laboratory). Since the patients are awake and alert through the procedure, they are given medication before and during angioplasty procedure to help relax.
The procedure begins by inserting a sheath into a blood vessel, usually in the upper leg, groin or arm. A hollow tube termed catheter is pushed through this sheath into the mouth of the coronary artery. Through this catheter another small balloon catheter is deployed into the coronary arteries.
Once the balloon is at the blocked or narrowed area in the artery, it is inflated to widen the pathway. In most cases the inflation lasts from 30 seconds upto several minutes, depending upon the nature of the blockage. The inflation of the balloon may cause chest pain in some patients, similar to angina. This happens because the balloon temporarily blocks the flow of blood and oxygen that it carries to the heart. If such pain is experienced, the patient should report the same to the doctor.
Nowadays, a stent is crimped on the balloon and is positioned at the site of obstruction. A stent is an expandable mesh tube. It is implanted to support and widen the artery and keep the vessel open for continuous blood flow. After the block has been opened the balloon is deflated and retracted back through the blood vessel. Stent implant is a permanent one.
What are the advantages of placing a stent?
Stent prevents acute vessel closure, means the sudden collapse of the narrowed artery after the balloon has opened it.
It also reduces restenosis, recurrence of blocks after balloon angioplasty
Can I be back to my routine after the procedure?
You would be kept under observation for 2-3 days. Once home, one can resume full activity within couple of days. Angioplasty is not a cure, but a treatment to reduce the effects of Coronary Artery Disease. Following angioplasty, diet and medications have to be strictly followed to reduce the risk of recurrence. Your health relies on the lifestyle you choose