Coronary Angioplasty is a minor procedure to widen blocked or narrowed arteries, helping to restore normal blood flow to the heart muscle. This procedure is necessary for people whose blockages places them at risk of getting a heart attack or of dying. It may also be required in severe cases where medication is ineffective or as an emergency treatment after a heart attack.
A coronary angioplasty is performed using local anasthetic administered at the puncture site, usually wrist or groin, which means you are awake during the whole process. A flexible catheter (thin tube) is threaded through a small puncture in the wrist or groin, with the guided help of a X-ray screen into the artery. When the catheter is in place, a very thin wire with a stent (wire mesh tube) mounted on an expandable balloon is carefully threaded through the catheter to the blockage site. The balloon is then inflated, causing the stent to push the plague to the sides and stretch the artery open, allowing for smoother blood flow. Once the stent is in place, keeping the artery open, both the balloon and catheter are taken out.
A few stents may be inserted during the same procedure, depending on the severity and areas of blockages. The entire procedure will take about two hours and the patient can usually discharge the next day if there are no complications. There is a need to be on two types of blood-thinning medications after the procedure in preventing blood clots at the site of the stent.
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