Angioplasty is a non-surgical procedure which opens blocked coronary arteries in patients, and restores blood flow into the heart.
Clogged arteries result from plaque build-up overtime on the inner artery walls. The hardened arteries are not able to dilate to their full capacity to let the blood flow through. This can result in a condition called Coronary Atherosclerosis, which can lead to chest pain also known as angina, a stroke or heart failure.
What is the procedure for angioplasty?
The Angioplasty procedure is performed in a cardiac catheterization laboratory, or a “cath lab” in a hospital.
Before the procedure the heart doctor or cardiologist, will review your medical history in detail to find out the risks involved, if any. Once this procedure is deemed safe for you, you will be given an appointment along with some instructions you need to follow prior to the procedure.
At the outset, a local anesthetic will be injected onto your upper leg or arm.
If the upper leg is chosen, the doctor will insert a thin tube called catheter through the femoral artery, a blood vessel in the spot where your leg bends at the hip. If the wrist, is chosen the doctor will insert the catheter through the radial artery.
The catheter is guided through the arteries into the blocked area of the heart, more specifically into the blocked part of the coronary artery. As arteries have no nerve endings, you will not feel anything while the catheter is being inserted through the artery.
Once the catheter is in place in the blocked area, the doctor injects a special dye (also called radiographic contrast agent) through the catheter into the heart. This special dye shows the blockages prominently in an x-ray camera which keeps projecting the live images of the arteries onto a monitor. The doctor then inserts a wire with an attached deflated balloon through the catheter, into the blocked area. The balloon is then inflated and deflated a number of times, which forces open the blocked area, as the plaque is pushed against the walls of the artery. The wire with the balloon is then pulled out and the blood flow through the artery returns to normal.
Post the procedure described above, depending on the severity of your condition, a stent may be placed in the blocked area of the artery by the doctor, so that the area remains open and blood can flow through with ease. The stent is like a wire mesh tube, made of metal, which is placed above the deflated balloon. Once the balloon is inflated, the stent expands with it and positions itself permanently in the artery and keeps it open at all times. Stents may be placed in multiple locations depending on the number of blocked arteries. The stents remain for life in the arteries.
Please Note: Angioplasty with stenting is commonly recommended by doctors for patients who have one or two blocked coronary arteries.
Are there any side effects/complications of angioplasty ?
Though angioplasty drastically reduces the possibility of heart attack and is the most minimally invasive heart procedure for removing blocks in the coronary arteries, yet this procedure has some risks involved.
35 % - 45% of the people who have undergone this procedure experience recurrent narrowing of arteries in the areas where the balloons were inserted. Stents can be placed to prevent the blocks from recurring.
There is the risk of coronary artery damage during this procedure
Though extremely rare there are chances of a stroke happening during the procedure
Kidney damage may result due to the dye used during the procedure. The doctor usually uses a very limited amount of dye if you have a history of kidney problems and also makes sure you are well hydrated during the procedure.
Though rare, heavy bleeding may occur sometimes when the catheter is inserted and you may require blood transfusion
There is risk of blood clots or scar tissue forming in the stent.
During the procedure you may experience irregular heart rhythm, which usually corrects itself after the procedure is complete
- There may be side effects from the medicines you need to take after the procedure
Who is not eligible for angioplasty?
You are not eligible for angioplasty if:
you have diabetes
you have multiple blockages in your heart
your heart muscle is weak
- the main artery which brings the blood into your heart is too narrow
Are there any post-treatment guidelines after angioplasty?
After undergoing an angioplasty procedure you need to take care of the following factors:
You need to take your medicines religiously, especially the medicines given for anti-clotting. Do not stop taking the anti-clotting and anti-platelet medicines without consulting your doctor. They are highly essential to keep strokes and heart attacks at bay.
One week after the procedure you need to go for a general physical check-up, get an ECG done, get your blood pressure checked and undergo some laboratory tests.
You should avoid any strenuous work or lifting any object heavier than 6 kgs for atleast 4 weeks after the procedure
Avoid any strenuous exercises, including hiking, bicycle rides for about two weeks after the procedure
You need to avoid driving and taking long drives for two weeks after the procedure
You need to report to the doctor immediately if you experience pain in the chest or in the leg or wrist, allergic reaction to medications, experience dizziness and weakness, shivering, fever, and chills
You can opt for a cardiac rehabilitation programme offered in many major hospitals of India. Cardiac rehabilitation programmes can be of twelve weeks which include monitored exercises 3 to four times a week.
- Changing to a healthy diet post the procedure and inculcating healthy lifestyle changes which include avoiding smoking and drinking can work wonders in preventing and deven reversing coronary disorders.
How long will it take to recover from an angioplasty procedure?
You can return to normal activities after around 4 days of surgery although, you should avoid any strenuous work or lifting any object heavier than 6 kgs for atleast 4 weeks after the procedure. You also need to avoid driving, long drives, strenuous exercises such as swimming and hiking for atleast 4 weeks after the procedure.
Depending on the doctor’s advice you can resume sexual activities after around 4 days of the procedure.
What is the price of angioplasty in India?
The cost of angioplasty can range anywhere between 1.8 lakhs to 2 lakhs in India.
Are the results of angioplasty permanent?
Angioplasty can prevent heart attacks or strokes for a long period of time, however some people do experience recurring narrow arteries again. If this procedure is coupled with healthy lifestyle changes then the results can be permanent.
Questions answered by trusted doctors
Acute Coronary Syndrome (ACS) is an umbrella term used to refer to a group of conditions, including myocardial infarction (heart attack) and unstable angina, which arise when the blood supply to the heart muscle is suddenly blocked.
The national statistics states that one out of every 5 persons suffers from low back pain at any one time and that there is an 80% chance of a person having low back pain sometimes in their lives.
After Coronary angioplasty or Stenting, you'll be moved to an Coronary Care Unit for one night. You must lie still for a few hours to allow the blood vessel in your arm or groin (upper thigh) to seal completely.
Coronary artery stenosis can occur as a result of the normal aging process in patients with exposure to a number of different risk factors. Where this process is accompanied by large amounts of calcified deposits building up inside the vessel walls, treatment is made easier and less risky if these calcified deposits are first removed using a tiny drill.