When the arteries around your heart become clogged up with a fatty substance called plaque, there is one surefire way to treat them, alleviate your circulation problems, and restore blood flow to the heart. This treatment is called angioplasty and it is commonly used to treat patients with Coronary Artery Disease.
An angioplasty is a brief surgical procedure where the cardiologist weaves a wire through the arteries around the heart and into position in an area where there is a blockage. Once in position, a small balloon is inflated that pushes that plaque toward the artery walls, creating more space for blood to flow normally. Often, this treatment is followed up by the insertion of a mesh stent which is a semi-permanent barrier that acts as a retaining wall to keep the plaque from retreating back into your arteries.

All of this may sound familiar to you, as this is an extremely common procedure that is successful in over 90% of patients. But how do you know if you are a good candidate for the procedure?

Do You Have Coronary Artery Disease?
Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) refers to the narrowing of the coronary arteries. This usually occurs due to atherosclerosis, or the buildup of plaque within the arteries. The early signs of CAD are angina (or chest pain), shortness of breath, or in advanced cases, heart attack. If you do not have CAD, you are not likely a candidate for this procedure, so first consult with your cardiologist to better understand your medical condition.

How Severe Is It?
Even if you’ve begun to experience a low level of blockage in your coronary arteries, it isn’t a sure bet that you’ll be a candidate for this procedure. Only arteries with at least 70% blockage, or those with severe CAD, are considered candidates for angioplasty and stent insertion. So, if you fall in a lesser category, this is an excellent time to begin reconsidering the lifestyle choices that may have led to where you are.

Can It Be Otherwise Treated?
Some earlier phases of Coronary Artery Disease can be addressed with medication and with intentional dietary and lifestyle changes. Before jumping straight into a surgical procedure, your doctor may want to try a series of lesser interventions in an attempt to get the issue under control before moving on to angioplasty.

Ultimately, the best way to determine whether or not you are a candidate for angioplasty is to receive a full evaluation from your cardiologist. If you haven’t already found a cardiologist you enjoy working with, contact us today.