Coronary angioplasty

For people who have a blockage in a coronary artery a procedure called a coronary angioplasty may be necessary. A coronary angioplasty involves using a balloon to re-open a coronary artery that contains a blockage in order to allow the blood to flow smoothly to the heart. The blockage in a coronary artery is caused by atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is a medical condition that describes when the inner walls of arteries are filled with plaque. Although this condition can affect any arteries throughout the body, when this condition affects the coronary arteries it is referred to as coronary artery disease. The health of the coronary arteries is crucial for ones survival. Since the coronary arteries carry the oxygen-rich blood to the heart, a blockage prevents the heart from receiving the oxygen it needs to survive.

Once a blockage has been detected, a coronary angioplasty can be performed to improve the blood flow. This can reduce the risk of a heart attack from occurring or can be used during a heart attack to allow the blood to flow to the heart once again. This type of procedure is performed on over a million patients a year in the United States alone. Although complications are rare, they are still a risk. These risks can include damage to the blood vessels, bleeding from a blood vessel, a heart arrhythmia, heart attack, stroke, damage to the kidneys, an allergic reaction, and the need for an emergency bypass procedure.

Before a coronary angioplasty procedure is performed the patient will meet with his or her cardiologist to discuss the procedure in great detail. Blood work will be performed along with an EKG (electrocardiogram) and a chest x-ray. Your doctor will go over medical history, perform a physical exam and discuss what to expect after the procedure.

The coronary angioplasty usually takes about 1 or 2 hours to perform and the patient will need to stay in the hospital over night for close monitoring. There is always the possibility of staying in the hospital for several days if the doctor feels monitoring the patient’s heart rate and blood pressure longer is necessary. The recovery process for most patients is about 1 week. By then most people are able to go back to work or resume low stress activities. A follow up appointment will be scheduled so the doctor can examine the patient’s progress.

After a person has suffered from an artery blockage it will be necessary for them to make several lifestyle changes in order to prevent the artery from becoming blocked once again. This could involve quitting smoking, eating a healthier diet, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, losing weight and starting an exercise routine. In order to help the patient accomplish these goals, a patient may be assigned to cardiac rehabilitation. By going through a cardiac rehabilitation process a person can learn about eating a proper diet, learn how to exercise properly, get emotional and physical support, and receive counseling during the recovery period.

Although a coronary angioplasty can be a scary procedure for many, it is less invasive than a heart surgery. The patient is lightly sedated to help them relax, however they are not under general anesthesia. Without the use of general anesthesia, there are less risks involved with the procedure. If you are about to undergo a coronary angioplasty procedure make sure you talk to your doctor about any concerns or questions you may have regarding the procedure or the recovery process. Going into the hospital prepared and relaxed will help you get through the procedure calmly and will help you recover with confidence.

Last updated on Aug 25th, 2009 and filed under Cardiovascular Disorders. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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