Simple Angioplasty

What is the need of angioplasty followed by stent placement?

You must have heard that the arteries get clogged. This happens because fatty substance known as plaque get attached to the walls of the artery. Such a condition is known as atherosclerosis. When these fat deposition take place inside the artery, obviously the artery narrows down and hence blood flow through the same is restricted.

When the coronary arteries are affected by plaque depositions, it leads to coronary heart ailment, which is a very serious health condition. The deposition of plaques in the arteries is highly threatening because these arteries are responsible for supplying the heart with fresh, oxygenated blood. The heart’s function gets impaired when it does not get a proper blood supply.

With angioplasty and stent placement, angina and artery blockage can be minimized considerably as these cannot be controlled by medicines practically. These processes and procedures are also implemented when a patient suffers from heart attack. At the same time, it is true that angioplasty and stent placement do not work in some conditions. For instance, when the main artery on the heart’s left side has a blockage, coronary artery bypass is the recommended procedure over angioplasty. Bypass surgery is also recommended if the patient has diabetes or have blockages in multiple arteries.

Are there any kinds of risks which are associated with angioplasty and stent placement?

Angioplasty and stent placement are surgical procedures and all surgical processes have risk factors associated to the same. Since the procedure is involved with arteries and the heart, the risk of adverse effects gets enhanced manifold times.
Some of the risk factors which are associated with the process include:

  • Breathing problems
  • Any kind of allergic reaction to the dye or medication
  • Formation of blood clot
  • Bleeding
  • An infection
  • Blockage of the stented artery
  • Heart attack
Many people are so scared of the procedure that they refuse to undergo the process at all. This increases the risk of heart ailments, even causing fatal consequences.

What are the preparations needed for angioplasty and stent placement?

Usually when one is advised to undergo angioplasty and stent placement in coronary arteries due to heart attack or other emergency coronary heart disease, practically there is no time to prepare. However, if the procedure is planned with plenty of time in hand, there are many preparations which need to be taken in that case. Some of them are as follows:
Inform the doctor about all the medicines, supplements, herbs, etc. that you are taking. Refrain from taking medicines, which make blood clotting difficult. These include drugs like ibuprofen, aspirin, clopidogrel, naproxen and similar drugs, which the doctor asks to stop taking. Quit smoking immediately if you do.
Inform the doctor of any kind of ailment you have, it might be simple cold and flu. If the doctor prescribes any special medication, make sure that you take it regularly as said. Take plenty of time and come to the hospital for the surgery.
Numbing medicine or injection will be administered at the site where the incision will be made. Medications through IV will also be given. This is given so that during the procedure, the patient remains calm and relaxed.

What is the process followed in angioplasty and stent placement?

If you thought that angioplasty and stent placement involves huge cuts and incisions on the body, you are mistaken. It is a minimally invasive procedure and hence the recovery time is also short. Mentioned below are the steps which take place during the procedure:

  • A small incision is made in the groin area so that an artery can be accessed.
  • Through the incision, a thin and highly flexible tube known as a catheter is inserted gradually and slowly.
  • The cardiologist will then guide the catheter in such a manner that it reaches the coronary arteries. Once that is done, the cardiologist gets a clear view of the arteries.
  • This is possible with the help of a kind of X-ray known as fluoroscopy.
  • A small wire is passed through the catheter by the cardiologist.
  • The guide wire is then followed by a second catheter. This catheter has a small balloon, which is attached to it.
  • When the balloon nears the blocked artery, the cardiologist inflates the balloon.
  • The stent is inserted at the same time as the balloon, so that the artery remains open and the blood flow through the artery is resumed.
  • Once the stent is believed to be secure, the catheter is removed cautiously and the stent remains in place, ensuring that the flow of blood is maintained well.

There are some stents, which have medication coating on them and the medicine slowly gets released into the artery. These are known as “drug eluting stents (DES)”. The purpose of these stents is helping in fighting fibrosis. In many patients bare metal stents, which are not coated in medicine are also used.

How does the patient feel post angioplasty and stent replacement?

Initially, there might be soreness at the incision site. Taking general painkillers can be helpful in combating this problem. Medicines will be prescribed so that blood is prevented from coagulating. The body gradually starts adjusting to the new stent, which is installed in the body.

Overnight stay at the hospital is recommended after the process of angioplasty, so that no complications take place like blood clotting, bleeding or issues with the flow of blood to the heart. In many patients, the stay at the hospital is extended if he/she has suffered from a heart attack or other cardiac ailments.

On returning home, it is recommended to drink abundant fluids and keep low physical activity for some time. The doctor will provide clear instructions and these should be followed strictly.

It is true that with angioplasty and stent placement, your life is saved from grave mishaps. But it is important that proper lifestyle changes are maintained and followed for improving heart health. Eating a balanced diet, exercising a little and quitting smoking and drinking is highly recommended.

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