Angioplasty is a procedure to open narrowed or blocked blood
vessels that supply blood to the heart. These blood vessels are
called coronary arteries. Often, one or more stents are placed in
the affected coronary artery to help prevent it from closing
again. A coronary artery stent is a small metal mesh tube that
expands inside the artery. Drug-eluting stents may also be used
to deliver medicine that helps prevent the artery from closing.
Arteries can become narrowed or blocked by deposits called
plaque. Plaque is made up of fat and cholesterol that build up on
the inside of the artery walls. This condition is called
atherosclerosis. Not every blockage can be treated with
angioplasty. Some may need a coronary bypass or open-heart
surgery. Angioplasty may be used to treat:
A small incision is made, usually near the groin. A catheter
(flexible tube) is inserted through the incision into an artery.
The physician uses live x-ray images to guide the catheter
through the artery up into the heart and arteries. Dye is
injected to highlight blood flow through the arteries. The dye
helps the physician see any blockages in the blood vessels that
lead to the heart.
A guide wire is then moved through the catheter into and across
the blockage. A balloon catheter is pushed over the guide wire
and into the blockage. The balloon on the end is then inflated.
It opens the blocked vessel and restores proper blood flow to the
heart. A stent may then be placed in this blocked area to prevent
the artery from closing again.
Angioplasty is generally safe, but a physician should be
consulted about possible complications. Some risks include:
- Allergic reaction to x-ray dye
- Bleeding or clotting in the area where the catheter is
- Damage to a heart valve or blood vessel
- Heart attack
- Kidney failure
- Irregular heartbeats
- Stroke (rare)
- Allergic reaction to the stent material
- Allergic reaction to the drug used in a drug-eluting stent
- Blood clot
- Clogging of the inside of the stent
The average hospital stay is two days or less. Some people may
not even have to stay overnight. In general, people who have
angioplasty are able to walk around within six hours after the
procedure. Complete recovery usually takes a week or less.
Angioplasty does not cure the cause of the blockage in the
arteries. See Wellness & Prevention for information on how to
follow a heart-healthy diet and prevent future blockages.
Texas Health is committed to providing quality care to heart
and vascular patients throughout North Texas and beyond. While
various technologies and services are discussed here, not all of
our hospitals offer every treatment and diagnostic technology
highlighted. Call 1-877-THR-WELL to learn more about heart and
vascular services at a Texas Health hospital near you.