Angioplasty refers to a medical procedure designed to widen arteries around the heart after they have been narrowed by plaque buildup. Balloon angioplasty (also called percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplastyor PTCA) makes use of a small balloon threaded through a catheter into the coronary arteries to widen them. The procedure is minimally invasive, and most patients are released from the hospital the next day.
Using a catheter inserted at the groin or the arm, a cardiologist will thread a small, deflated balloon up the blood vessel and into the affected coronary arteries. Once the balloon is in place, it will be inflated, pushing aside plaque deposits and widening the artery. The balloon actually crushes and breaks plaque deposits apart — as burst plaques cause most heart attacks — balloon angioplasty can improve blood flow and decrease a patient’s risk of a heart attack.
Balloon angioplasty works as a sound treatment method for a variety of heart-related issues, and remains effective both as a treatment and preventive measure for angina and heart attack.
Treatment of Atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is the gradual narrowing of the coronary arteries surrounding the heart muscle due to plaque buildup on the inside arterial walls. This plaque, whose excessive buildup is usually attributed to a combination of genetics and a diet high in cholesterol, contributes to poor blood flow and the development of coronary artery disease.
Heart Attack Prevention.Heart attacks are usually caused by the rupture of plaque deposits. Breaking them up early prevents reduces the likelihood of a blood clot (which can become trapped in a narrow arterial opening and cause heart attacks).
Relief of Pain Associated with Angina. Angina, or chest pain caused by insufficient oxygen being delivered to the heart muscle, is usually caused by coronary artery disease.
The balloon angioplasty procedure will be performed in a hospital and does not require general anesthesia — most patients are only mildly sedated to make them more comfortable during the procedure. It may be over in as little as half an hour, and most patients will only need to spend one night in the hospital before going home. Patients will be able to walk around six to eight hours following the balloon angioplasty procedure and can return to their normal routine after about one week.
Balloon angioplasty is considered to be a very safe procedure, especially when compared to invasive coronary artery bypass surgery. Patients experiencing swelling, pain, fever, weakness, or faintness following the procedure should immediately contact their doctor.