What Is an Angioplasty?
If you or a loved one suffers from coronary artery disease, the arteries in the heart have become narrowed or completely blocked due to an excessive build-up of plaque. To rectify this condition, angioplasty is used to restore blood flow through the artery. A trained surgeon in a hospital performs the procedure, who threads a very thin tube through a single blood vessel in the arm. This tube has a small balloon attached to the end, which inflates to remove the plaque in the artery. The surgery is relatively painless under local anesthesia and can be performed in a timely manner.
For the most part, doctors decide to use angioplasty for one of two reasons: to reduce chest pain and minimize damage to the heart muscle from a heart attack. Most patients who undergo the procedure are sent home that very day. Most can even return to work or strenuous activities within just one week. Of course, the healing process varies for everyone, so you should speak with your doctor before joining a sport or jogging a marathon.
During the Procedure
Before the procedure begins, your doctor will administer a numbing solution over the region the catheter will enter for anesthesia. Next, a thin tube, known as a sheath, is inserted into the artery. This is the tube mentioned previously with the balloon.
In total, the procedure will last between 1 and 3 hours, though preparation and recovery may add significantly more time. In some cases, you may need to remain at the hospital overnight for further observation. Albeit rare, this is to prevent any unforeseen complications due to the operation.
If you’d like to schedule a consultation appointment with a heart specialist, contact Brookhaven Heart by calling 631-654-3278. We’re happy to answer any questions about angioplasty that you may have!