Angioplasty

Restoring Proper Blood Flow to the Heart with Angioplasty

The heart is the crucial organ to keeping us alive by beating 100,000 times a day and pumping up to five litres of blood throughout our body through a complex network of blood vessels that measure a whopping 96,560 kilometers!

It is no surprise, then, that coronary artery disease—resulting in blocked coronary arteries (the main blood vessels supplying the heart with a constant supply of blood)—is a dangerous condition; and the unblocking of these arteries are key to one’s health and sometimes even survival itself.

And, in modern interventional cardiology, a coronary angioplasty is an effective method of widening obstructed coronary arteries when an urgent situation calls for it.

Chest pains may be due to obstructed blood flow to the heart, which, depending on severity, may require an angioplasty.

Contact our clinic at 6736 1068 for a detailed heart assessment today.

When Is An Angioplasty Used?

If the flow of blood to the heart is obstructed due to a narrowed artery (caused by a buildup of cholesterol or plaque), it may result in chest pains, a warning sign to seek help immediately.

In serious cases, a blood clot may form or the obstructed blood flow may worsen until the artery is completely blocked, resulting in a heart attack.

In such cases, a coronary angioplasty may be used to widen blocked or narrowed coronary arteries, so that normal blood flow can be restored.

But First—Angiography:
Identifying the Affected Areas

A coronary angiogram is a test used to determine if your coronary arteries are obstructed, where, and by how much. Knowing this will also allow your cardiologist to determine what kind of treatment you need:

  • Will lifestyle and diet changes suffice?
  • An angioplasty (with or without a stent?)
  • A coronary artery bypass surgery?

What Happens During An Angiogram?

  1. A catheter (a tiny tube) will be inserted through an artery in the groin or arm, and gently threaded until it reaches a coronary artery.
  2. A contrast dye will be delivered into the blood stream through the catheter so that the arteries will become visible on the X-ray image.
  3. By analyzing the X-ray images, your cardiologist will be able to identify any problems present in your coronary arteries.

How Does An Angioplasty Work?

A coronary angioplasty opens up blocked or narrowed arteries and restores normal blood flow to the heart. It is not a major surgery and causes minimal discomfort and downtime.

  1. A catheter (a tiny tube) will be inserted through an artery in the groin or arm, and gently threaded until it reaches a coronary artery.
  2. A thin wire is threaded through the catheter to reach the point of obstruction in the coronary artery. A small balloon is attached to this wire.
  3. In order to widen the obstructed artery, the balloon is inflated, pushing the plaque to the sides of the arterial walls, allowing normal blood flow to resume.
  4. In many cases, a stent—sometimes dissolvable—is opened as the balloon is inflated, and locks in that position to ensure that the artery is kept open.
  5. The balloon and catheter is gently removed, and normal blood flow will continue.

If you are experiencing chest discomfort, or have a personal or family history of heart disease, please do not hesitate to arrange a heart assessment at 6736 1068 today.

Is The Angioplasty Suitable For Anyone With Narrowed Arteries?

Though the angioplasty significantly improved the process of treating artery blockages with greatly reduced invasiveness (compared to open-heart bypass surgery) and its corresponding reduced discomfort and risks, it might not be the first line of treatment nor might it be suitable for all.

Possible Option Before Angioplasty: Lifestyle & Diet Changes

In cases where the narrowing is not severe, your cardiologist may recommend a change in lifestyle and diet first, to see if the condition improves. This may include:

  • Regular exercise
  • Quitting smoking and drinking
  • Weight loss if you are overweight
  • Controlling your cholesterol levels
  • Healthy diet (less sugary and fatty food)

When One Is Not Suitable For An Angioplasty

  • When the patient has diabetes
    1. Diabetes frequently cause circulation problems and damage blood vessels
  • When the patient has a weak cardiac muscle
  • When the patient has multiple diseased or blocked blood vessels
    1. In this case, an coronary artery bypass surgery may be more suitable instead

Life After An Angioplasty

Perhaps the most important thing to note is: no matter how effective an angioplasty is, it is not a permanent treatment for coronary artery disease!

If the patient does not adopt an active and healthy lifestyle after an angioplasty, or fails to take their prescribed medicines as instructed, plaque may start building up all over again, leading to the narrowing of the coronary arteries.

Hence, while the angioplasty may give patients a new lease in life, they must be sure to follow up regularly with their cardiologist, take their medicines as prescribed, and lead a healthy lifestyle to prevent the same condition from ever recurring.

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