The heart is one of the main organs of the body assigned with the important function of pumping blood throughout the body while also receiving the impure (deoxygenated) blood and sending the same to the lungs for purification (oxygenation). The heart beats around 3 billion times and pumps around 400 million liters of blood during an average life expectancy of 75 years.

It consists of 4 chambers: 2 atria or upper chambers and 2 ventricles or lower chambers. The impure blood returns from various parts of the body to the right side of the heart. It is then pumped into the lungs, purified (oxygenated), sent back to the heart on the left side, and then the pure blood is pumped to the entire body. Thus, the heart is like a pump, it beats constantly to supply blood to all body parts and also to itself.

The arteries which have thick walls are made up of fibrous elastic tissue and muscle cells, which receives the blood at speed and high pressure and pass it throughout the body. Having healthy arteries provides smooth inner walls and thereby easy movement of blood through them. Clogged arteries arise due to the build-up of plaque on the arterial walls.

Angioplasty or Coronary angioplasty, also called Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI), is a minimally invasive medical procedure used to open clogged heart arteries and increase the flow of blood through a narrowed artery. Angioplasty is done using a tiny balloon catheter which is inserted inside a blocked blood vessel to widen it and enhance the blood flow to the heart.

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Frequently asked questions about Angioplasty

What is angioplasty?

A very less invasive medical procedure that is used to open clogged heart arteries and increase the flow of blood through a narrowed artery is called Angioplasty or Coronary angioplasty, also called Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI).

What are the types of Angioplasty?

Below are the types of angioplasty;

  • Balloon angioplasty 
  • Stent placement 
  • Laser Angioplasty
  • Coronary Atherectomy

Who needs an angioplasty procedure?

Angioplasty is required for people having blockages in their heart arteries, caused by a condition called atherosclerosis, people facing extreme pain in the chest (angina) or discomfort; these blockages put individuals at a higher chance of a heart attack or can even be fatal for some.

What is the result of the Angioplasty procedure?

Coronary angioplasty increases the flow of blood through blocked or narrowed coronary artery. The pain in the chest should eventually decrease and the patient may be able to exercise as well. This will give a sense of relief to the patient who is suffering from chest pain and puts him or her at a lesser risk of a heart attack. 

What is the recovery time from an Angioplasty procedure?

Angioplasty and stenting recovery period is quite short. Once the catheter is removed, the patient may be discharged from the hospital in around 12 to 24 hours. Most of the patients may also be able to resume their routine lifestyle within a few days or around a week after the procedure. 

What are the side effects of Angioplasty?

The common side effects include the following:

  • An allergic reaction to medication or dye inserted in the blood vessel
  • Breathing problems
  • Bleeding
  • A blockage of the stented artery
  • A blood clot
  • A heart attack
  • An infection
  • Re-thinning of the artery or arteries
  • Uncommon side effects like seizure and stroke
Can you feel the stents in your heart?

The patient will not feel the stents since the stents are placed in the artery. Rather the stents will make the patient feel better since the blood flow increases through the coronary arteries. Though at times, the patient may feel some unexplainable pain in the chest

What is the difference between Angiography and Angioplasty?

Angioplasty and Angiography are two quite different medical processes that are related to the blood vessels. While angiography is used to investigate or examine the blood vessels for a prospective heart condition, Angioplasty is carried out to broaden the narrowed arteries to cure the condition. Sometimes both these processes are done at the same time to prevent another surgery.

Which is the best hospital in India for Angioplasty?

Many good hospitals in India cure heart conditions. 

Some of them are:

  • Narayana Hrudayalaya, Bangalore
  • Fortis Escorts Heart Institute, New Delhi, 
  • Medanta The Medicity in Gurgaon, 
  • Wockhardt Hospital and Nanavati Hospital in Mumbai, 
  • Manipal Hospital, Bangalore,  
  • Apollo CVHF, Zydus, Epic, and Apex Hospitals in Ahmedabad,
  • B. M. Birla Heart Research Centre, Kolkata.
Can Angioplasty be done twice?

It is quite a standard approach to treat the first restenosis with coronary angioplasty again, although the long term result of such a method is not well defined.

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Why is Angioplasty done?
This process is generally done when plaque is collected on the walls of the coronary arteries causing insufficient blood flow to the heart and leading to ischemia. This condition where there is plaque build-up is known as atherosclerosis. As heart is one of the most important organs of the body supplying pure blood to every other organ of the body, restricted blood flow may lead to a condition known as Ischemic Heart Disease and even heart failure. The classical pain that occurs due to this is referred to as angina.

The main reasons why Angioplasty is performed are as below :
  • Chest pain or Angina – A person may feel angina or pain in the chest during stress or exercise since the arteries of the heart are too thin to pass enough oxygen and blood to meet the increase in demand. 
  • Angioplasty is generally advised to those patients who suffer from chest pain and which has not been cured by standard or primary medical treatments and continue to show symptoms. 
  • Heart attack –When there is a heart attack, an artery is blocked completely, which cuts off the oxygen and blood to part of the heart which causes the death of the tissue. This is the reason heart attacks cause acute pain. Reopening the artery as early as possible may lessen the amount of damage to the heart tissue during the heart attack. But this may not apply to all patients after a heart attack. 

Types Of Angioplasty:
  • Balloon Angioplasty
    In this process, an inflatable balloon is inserted in the artery or arteries. The pressure from the balloon lets the doctor to clear the plaque or blockage in the target artery/arteries.
  • Laser Angioplasty
    This type of angioplasty is quite similar to Balloon angioplasty, but here a catheter with a laser tip is used rather than a balloon-tipped catheter. The laser is applied to the blockage which then destroys plaque by each layer through vaporizing the plaque into gaseous particles.
  •  Coronary Atherectomy
    This process is quite similar to angioplasty. In this method, special types of instruments are used to remove the plaque instead of the balloon which presses the deposit on the wall of the arteries.
This process proves quite useful in removing blockages that are very hardened or calcified and are not accessible during balloon angioplasty. 

The devices that may be used are:
  • Extraction  atherectomy 
  • Rotational  atherectomy 
  • Directional  atherectomy 

Stent Angioplasty
Stents are expandable, small devices made up of metal in the form of a meshed tube that are inserted with the help of a catheter inside the narrow artery once the angioplasty process is completed. Stents are kept in place such as to avoid the complication known as restenosis or prevent the arteries from getting closed again. Two types of stents are available, normal stent and a drug eluting stent. The latter contains a drug that prevents the reformation of the plaque.

Symptoms of conditions requiring Coronary Angioplasty:

    • Burning sensation in the chest
    • Heaviness in the heart
    • Pain in the lower back, neck, jaw, and shoulders
    • Fainting or Dizziness.
    • Shortness of breath

    • Though angioplasty is quite a safe process sometimes unusual complications may arise. 

    Clotting, bruising at the spot of insertion, bleeding
    • Blood clots formed in the stent, or scar tissue
    • Arrhythmia or an uneven heartbeat.
    • Injury to the heart valve, or artery or a blood vessel 
    • A heart attack 
    • Injury to the kidney especially in the patients who have already existing kidney problems. 
    • an infection

    Coronary angioplasty increases the flow of the blood through the narrow or thin or blocked coronary artery. The pain in the chest will decrease considerably, and the patient will now be able to exercise. Having a stent and angioplasty does not mean that the disease of the heart has been cured completely. So the patient has to take appropriate medications and need to maintain a very healthy lifestyle. 
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