This procedure, known by the technical term percutaneous coronary intervention is a common surgical procedure used to treat the condition known as atherosclerosis. In patients with this condition, the inner walls of the heart become gummed up with a fatty plaque making it difficult for blood to flow freely in and out of the heart.
During the procedure, the surgeon threads a thin wire through the affected artery. At the end of that wire is a small balloon that is then inflated inside your artery, widening it and allowing blood to flow more freely. At this point in the procedure, many physicians opt to insert a small mesh tube called a stent. A stent is a permanent fixture that holds the artery open so that restenosis – the re-narrowing of your arteries – doesn’t occur.
What should I expect?
While this whole procedure may sound scary, it is not very invasive. The surgeon accesses the arteries of your heart through an artery in your groin (the femoral artery). In fact, you won’t even go under general anesthesia during the procedure. You’ll be sedated, but awake, making recovery much easier than other heart-related procedures.
The coronary angioplasty is a highly effective procedure that instantly restores blood flow through the affected artery, but it isn’t meant to shoulder all of the burdens in your heart health journey. In fact, it’s not uncommon for patients to experience restenosis, especially when they don’t invest in critical self-care.
If improving your heart health is a goal in your life, cardiac care is most effective when paired with important lifestyle changes. Eliminating unhealthy habits like smoking and creating new healthy habits like regular exercise, eating lots of fresh vegetables, managing your stress and getting plenty of sleep are key to making sure your angioplasty is successful and part of a greater heart health strategy.
If you’re experiencing chest pain or shortness of breath – both of which can be symptoms of atherosclerosis – we urge you to find a cardiologist to help treat you as soon as possible. Getting ahead of your heart conditions is a great way to ensure that you enjoy a long and healthy life. If you’re not yet under cardiac care, contact us today. We’d love to help you find the cardiologist on our team who can guide you on your cardiac health journey.