Introduction to Angioplasty
Due to similarities in the preparation and procedure, angioplasty, or the reshaping of blood vessels, is often performed alongside angiography, or the imaging of blood vessels using contrast.
What is an Angioplasty?
Due to similarities in the preparation and procedure, angioplasty, or the reshaping of blood vessels, is often performed alongside angiography, or the imaging of blood vessels using contrast. Commonly people will undergo angiography and subsequently angioplasty upon determining that the procedure is suitable for you.
People undergo angioplasty in order to correct an abnormal narrowing of the artery, or stenosis, most commonly caused by the build up of fatty plaques or atheromas often associated with heart disease.
How is an Angioplasty performed?
The procedure is undergone under local anaesthetic, so you will be awake yet unable to feel pain in treated areas of your body. You may also be given sedatives via an intravenous line. The angioplasty itself is performed with a catheter directed through an artery in your wrist or groin to the narrowed artery in question, guided via X-rays the entire time.
Once the catheter is position a thin balloon is passed towards the stenosis and inflated, this displaces the fatty plaque towards the blood vessel walls, thus widening the diameter of the blood vessel and easing blood flow to relevant tissues. While the balloon is inflating it may cause slight chest pain though this is to be expected and isn’t a cause for concern, though if it is too uncomfortable painkillers can be provided.
You may also undergo a stent insertion in order to maintain the width of the blood vessel after the balloon is deflated and removed, and in that case the stent is directed to the blood vessel around the balloon. It is positioned to support the blood vessel wall while the balloon is inflating and once the balloon deflates the stent remains in position, supporting your artery.
How to prepare for an Angioplasty?
It is worth consulting friends who have undergone angioplasty, or your cardiologist or GP, in order to allay any anxieties you may have regarding the procedure.
Additionally while you are able to undergo the procedure alongside many medications certain types, especially anticoagulants such as warfarin and diabetes medications, can potentially lead to complications. Hence it is worth consulting a healthcare practitioner for exact advice and you will be given instructions regarding their use prior to the procedure.
What happens after an Angioplasty?
Many people are required to stay in hospital at least overnight though quite frequently people are able to leave the same day. Additionally if you have had a stent inserted as part of your procedure you will have to take certain medications such as aspirin and clopidogrel in order to reduce clotting.