Reducing the effect of plaque buildup through angioplasty

When left unchecked or undetected, plaque buildup in the coronary artery can become very serious and complicated over the years. Among others, cholesterol is the primary ingredient that constitutes plaque. The buildup of plaque in the arteries is commonly known as the Coronary Artery Disease (CAD).

The disease basically increases the patient’s susceptibility to heart risks and also causes other related problems. When the accumulation of plaque is left unchecked, it can obstruct the supply of blood to the heart & affect other organs. Due to this reason, many vital organs in the body fail to get their normal supply of blood and oxygen causing further problems and complications to the patient. Therefore, it is very important to detect and treat plaque build-up before it can cause any serious damage to the health.

Percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) or Angioplasty – is a common, minimally invasive method to treat narrowed arteries, both inside & outside the heart. Streaks of cholesterol start building up in arteries from late childhood, resulting in plaques & a gradual narrowing of these arteries with age. Arteries usually become narrowed when the plaque accumulation in them reaches high levels.


Coronary Angioplasty

The angioplasty procedure makes use of a thin plastic tube called a catheters,  which are guided through the patient’s arteries up to the point of blockage. A wire is passed down into the artery, through the blockage, a balloon can be passed over the wire into the narrowing & inflated compressing the fatty material & widening the artery. A stent is wire mesh tube crimped on to a balloon.

This is passed over the wire & positioned in the artery at the site of the blockage. The balloon is inflated, deploying the stent at the point of the narrowing, this acts as a scaffold to keep the artery open & restore normal blood flow.


Procedure – Consultant Cardiologist

The general procedure and protocols when performing an Angioplasty- Coronary and Non-coronary

Before the procedure, you must consult with your doctor in order to learn how to best prepare yourself.  In most cases, patients are advised against medication and food intake for a few hours before the procedure. However, it is imperative that you talk to your doctor before deciding to stop any medication.

Before the procedure, the necessary consent is obtained from the patient after which initial tests can be performed. Methods are first adopted to measure the heart rate and the blood pressure of the patient throughout the process.

Steps to measure the oxygen content of the blood through finger clips are also taken in some cases in order to get the most efficient results. The patient generally remains awake through the operation and is administered local anesthetics in order to numb the affected regions. After the procedure, the catheter is removed and the incision is sealed in order to prevent further bleeding.

In terms of the procedure, an angioplasty is typically performed by an interventional cardiologist in a cath lab. The doctor is basically going to use a small needle through which local anesthetic is introduced in the area that needs to be numbed. A catheter is introduced in the body, through the femoral artery in the groin, where it is threaded to the heart via the arteries for the performance of the angioplasty.

However, your doctor may choose the insert the catheter via the radial or brachial artery. You will not feel the catheter as there are no nerves in the. The physician is going to be guided through x-ray camera and images of the arteries over a TV screen to reach the blockage.

A contrast dye is injected when the catheter is adequately positioned into the heart and its arteries. You might experience a bit of discomfort in the chest when the dye is injected. Now a balloon catheter is also going to be threaded through to the position where the artery is narrowed.

Once done, a thin, small wire of nearly 0.14 inches; diameter is passed through to the narrowed segment. Once positioned, the balloon is inflated with the help of x-ray dye and water after which the balloon pushes the plaque against the wall of the artery. With the inflation of the balloon, the plaque upon being extended into the wall is going to crack or tear. The balloon is then deflated and chest x-ray images are acquired to make sure that the blockage has finished. Upon the removal of the balloon catheter, final x-ray images are acquired.

The risks and problems associated with Angioplasty

As the procedure is performed by a team of trained professionals, the chances of any serious complications to the patient is quite less. However, there are a few risks that are associated with it.

In some cases, the patient may experience strokes or heart attacks during the procedure which may lead into other emergency operations. The minor risks include bleeding at the point of incision for the catheter, nausea, dizziness, etc. Therefore, you can talk to the doctor before the procedure in order to learn more about the various risks involved and how it is beneficial for your heart condition. For more information contact private heart specialist Dr Gill