What is an angioplasty?

An angioplasty, commonly called percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty, is a nonsurgical procedure performed to treat atherosclerosis by widening the artery and restoring blood flow to the affected area.

Why is an angioplasty done?

Atherosclerosis is the buildup of plaque inside the coronary arteries. Plaque is made of fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances found in the blood. Over time the plaque hardens and narrows the passageway through the arteries. Angioplasty pushes the plaque to the sides of the arterial wall, thereby opening the vessel and allowing blood to flow through.

What to expect during this procedure

You will be awake, but you will receive local anesthesia near the site of the procedure as well as pain medicine along with a sedative to help you relax. During the procedure, a tube or catheter will be inserted through an artery in your arm or leg.  A small balloon at the end of the catheter is inflated, widening the area of the blocked artery. After the artery is stretched, the balloon is deflated and removed. Your doctor might inflate and deflate the balloon several times before it's removed, depending on the amount of blockage, stretching the artery a bit more each time.

The doctor may place a stent (small, collapsed, wire mesh tube) in the affected area of the artery to help keep the artery open.

Expect an overnight stay in the hospital before you return home.

Results to expect from an angioplasty

  • More energy, less fatigue
  • Increased blood flow to the heart
  • Reduce chest pain
  • Improve overall health

Common conditions that could require an angioplasty

Your doctor might suggest angioplasty as a treatment option when:

  • Medications or lifestyle changes aren't enough to improve your heart health
  • If you have suffered a heart attack
  • Worsening chest pain (angina) or other symptoms

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