What is angioplasty?
Angioplasty is a procedure in which your health care provider inserts a balloon catheter into a blocked artery to unblock the artery. The blocked artery may be an artery in your arm, leg, or neck. If the blocked artery is a blood vessel that supplies blood to the heart, the procedure is called coronary angioplasty, or Percutaneous Transluminal Coronary Angioplasty (PTCA). A catheter is a thin tube inserted into a blood vessel either at the elbow or groin. The catheter is pushed through the blood vessel to the blockage in the artery. Inflating a balloon at the tip of the catheter stretches the narrowed artery. Your health care provider then deflates the balloon and removes the catheter and balloon. The stretching of the artery greatly improves blood flow through the artery. Often a metal device called a stent is left in the artery to improve chances that the blood vessel will stay open.
When is it used?
Arteries can become blocked or narrowed when certain substances build up in the artery wall. These substances-cholesterol, minerals, blood, and muscle cells-are called plaque.
- Angioplasty is used to treat:
coronary artery disease (narrowing or blockage of the arteries that supply blood to the heart)
- angina pectoris (chest pain).
- peripheral vascular disease (blocked arteries in the limbs, especially the legs).
- carotid artery disease (narrowing or blockage of the blood vessels in your neck.)
- Coronary angioplasty may be done after a heart attack to reduce heart muscle damage from the heart attack.