Angioplasty & Stenting
Non-Surgical Heart Disease Treatments
Plaque buildup can reduce the inner diameter of coronary arteries, which limits the amount of blood funneling through the vessels and, in turn, slows blood flow to and from the heart. While some cases require bypass surgery, heart surgeons can often remove dangerous plaque with a less invasive procedure called angioplasty.
At Brookhaven Heart, our certified cardiologists offer ample experience and expertise in safely and effectively opening clogged arteries. Through an initial angiogram to identify the location of blockages, an angioplasty procedure, and (in some cases) the insertion of heart stents, our caring cardiologists will help your blood flow freely and set you back on track to a healthy life.
What is an Angiogram?
Doctors use angiography to take pictures of your arteries. Angiograms can capture images of arteries throughout your body: a peripheral angiogram, for example, allows doctors to see arteries that supply blood to your legs, while a coronary angiogram provides images of the arteries in the heart.
When performing angiography, doctors use cardiac catheterization. A camera-equipped catheter inserted through an artery in the groin, arm or leg transmits images to a computer screen, where your cardiologist can observe the blood vessels in real-time and identify the exact location of any blockage or narrowing.
What is Angioplasty?
After identifying a blockage, your doctor can perform an angioplasty to open the artery wall and increase blood flow. In an angioplasty, a small balloon attached to the tip of the cardiac catheter inflates, stretching the vessel wall and condensing some of the plaque to increase the inner artery diameter. Once the artery is open, your cardiologist will deflate and remove the balloon. For some patients, a simple angioplasty will be enough to restore proper blood flow.
As plaque builds up in coronary arteries, obstructed blood and oxygen flow to the heart can result in angina or heart attack. Angioplasty may be the best way to dilate the affected artery and restore proper blood flow. During a laser angioplasty procedure a thin, flexible catheter is inserted into the coronary artery through either the femoral artery in your leg or the radial artery in your wrist. The catheter guides the laser on its tip to the site of the blockage. Once there, the laser will begin emitting pulsating beams of light to vaporize the plaque blocking the artery into gaseous particles. Occasionally, laser angioplasty is used in conjunction with balloon angioplasty. This will flatten the remaining plaque the laser missed against the walls of your artery, allowing for even more blood flow. This is called laser-assisted balloon angioplasty. The restenosis rate (narrowing of an artery after a restorative procedure) for laser angioplasty is comparable to that of balloon angioplasty, but the long-term results are still being reviewed.
Balloon angioplasty is a common method for addressing clogged arteries and is normally used in conjunction with the placement of a stent. A deflated balloon attached to the tip of a catheter is inserted into your arteries either through the femoral artery or the radial artery, just as in the laser angioplasty. Once the catheter has reached the area blocked by plaque the balloon is inflated, perhaps several times, to dilate the artery and compact the plaque against the walls. At this point, the doctor may also choose to insert a stent into the affected area, permanently dilating the artery and preventing plaque from obstructing the passage of blood cells. A balloon angioplasty procedure may be effective enough, but in most cases, a stent is also needed to maintain long-term blood flow to the heart. Restenosis is still possible but not as likely with the inclusion of a stent.
What are Cardiac Stents?
If an angioplasty does not open the artery enough, your cardiologist can insert a metal mesh tube into the area opened by the balloon. This tube, a cardiac stent, will force the artery to remain open. Your cardiologist will then deflate and remove the balloon, leaving the stent in place.
Can Angioplasty Cure Coronary Artery Disease?
This common question isn’t a yes or no answer. Instead, it is an involved one. It is safe to say that an angioplasty helps to diminish coronary artery disease, but it is not a standalone cure. In addition to angioplasty, the patient should also make lifestyle changes that encourage healthy heart activity and consider heart medications. Angioplasty is a worthy option for C.A.D., but it doesn’t stand on its own as a cure.
Ask Brookhaven Heart
If you have questions about angioplasty, cardiac stents or other heart disease treatments, contact Brookhaven Heart today.
New Hyde Park: (631) 654-3278
Email us directly via our online form.
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