Angioplasty: Frequently asked questions
The modern urban lifestyle has most of us glued to our chairs and computers for the better part of our days. This may seem like an improvement from the hard physical labour our ancestors were used to, but when it comes to our health, all healthcare professionals will tell you that it’s not.
Cardiovascular Artery Disease
Lifestyle diseases are non-communicable health conditions caused by leading an unhealthy lifestyle; this includes heart conditions. Statistics reveal that 26% of all deaths in India happen due to cardiovascular diseases, the most of common one being Cardiovascular Artery Disease (CAD).
CAD refers to a condition where the arteries supplying blood to the body, develop plaque (cholesterol deposits) build-up, narrowing the arteries and restricting the flow of blood. A minimally invasive procedure used to correct this condition is known as Angioplasty
Angioplasty, also known as, Balloon Angioplasty or Percutaneous Transluminal Angioplasty (PTA), involves the insertion of a tiny balloon catheter to the affected vessel from the groin or the arm of the patient. This is guided to the blocked artery and inflated to broaden the artery, restoring normal blood flow throughout the body.
Often this procedure also entails the placement of a steel mesh called stent. This prevents the now broadened artery from clogging again.
Benefits and Risks
Like all medical procedures, Angioplasty comes with health benefits and some risks. Major benefits of the procedure include the reduction of heart muscle damage during a heart attack, restoration of blood flow, improvement in symptoms like fatigue, breathlessness and angina (chest pain). It also substantially reduces the risk of stroke and may lead to improvement in kidney function.
Angioplasty is a minimally invasive procedure, so compared to a Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) surgery, it involves less health risks, low risk of infection and faster recovery – you could be back to your normal activities within days (unless you’ve suffered a heart attack).
However, there is a risk of bruising, bleeding or blood clotting. Restenosis, or reoccurrence of narrowing of the vessel can also affect some, although this risk can be substantially reduced by the placement of stents.
Some other very rare risks associated with the procedure are an allergy to the dye, damage to the coronary artery, temporary abnormal heart rhythm, stroke, heart attack and vessel occlusion.
Inputs by Dr. Sanjeevkumar Kalkekar, Consultant, Cardiology, at Apollo Hospitals, Navi Mumbai.