Cath Lab

Coronary angioplasty: Opening blocked arteries

Percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), commonly known as coronary angioplasty or simply angioplasty, is a procedure used to open blocked or narrowed coronary (heart) arteries. The procedure improves blood flow to the heart muscle.

Over time, a fatty substance called plaque can build up in your arteries, causing them to harden and narrow. This condition is called atherosclerosis.

Atherosclerosis can affect any artery in the body. When atherosclerosis affects the coronary arteries, the condition is called coronary heart disease (CHD) or coronary artery disease.

Angioplasty can restore blood flow to the heart if the coronary arteries have become narrowed or blocked because of CHD.

Angioplasty is a common medical procedure. It may be used to:

  • Improve symptoms of CHD, such as and shortness of breath. (Angina is chest pain or discomfort.)
  • Reduce damage to the heart muscle caused by a heart attack. A heart attack occurs if blood flow through a coronary artery is completely blocked. The blockage usually is due to a blood clot that forms on the surface of plaque. During an angioplasty, a small balloon is expanded inside the coronary artery to relieve the blockage.
  • Reduce the risk of death in some patients.

Stents are small mesh tubes that support the inner artery wall. They reduce the chance of the artery becoming narrowed or blocked again. Some stents are coated with medicines that are slowly and continuously released into the artery. The medicines help prevent the artery from becoming blocked again.

Source: National Center for Biotechnology Information & PubMed Health

Dr Sajid Dhakam
Dr Sajid Dhakam
American Board of Internal Medicine
Cardiovascular Diseases & Interventional Cardiology Consultant Cardiologist

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