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A coronary angioplasty is a non-invasive surgical procedure to increase blood flow to your heart by widening narrowed or blocked arteries. An alternative to a heart bypass surgery, it involves threading a balloon-mounted catheter through your veins to the narrowed or blocked artery. The balloon is then inflated to widen the artery.
It is usually accompanied by a stent implantation procedure, which keeps your artery open. A stent, which a tube-like metal scaffold, is wrapped around the balloon. When the balloon inflates, the stent also expands. This adheres it to the artery walls, propping it open. Over time, tissue grows around the stent, holding it in place.
Some stents are coated with medication to prevent the growth of scar tissue in the artery, which promotes good blood flow.
Some people may not be suitable for an angioplasty. Your cardiologist may recommend you to undergo a heart bypass surgery instead. Make an enquiry to understand more about the various procedures to treat a diseased artery.
What to Expect at an Angioplasty
An angioplasty usually takes up to two hours, depending on the extent of the blockage in your artery. The procedure involves several steps:
- First, you will be injected with a local or general anaesthetic.
- A plastic tube, or a sheath is inserted into an artery in your groin or wrist.
- The catheter is threaded through the veins and to the block artery, carrying with it the balloon and the stent.
- The balloon is inflated, which compresses the plaque around the artery, while expanding the stent to support the artery walls.
You may experience some discomfort during the balloon inflation and stenting process.
After the procedure, your cardiologist will remove the catheter and apply pressure on the entry site until the bleeding has stopped. The entry site will be bandaged, and you will be kept on bed rest for about four hours.