Angioplasty is a medical procedure that opens up a blocked or narrowed artery around the heart. It is a standard treatment for narrowed or blocked arteries in this area of the body. During angioplasty, a surgeon inserts a tube into an artery in the groin or wrist. They then thread the tube towards the affected artery around the heart. Finally, they insert a balloon or stent (metal tube) to open the artery. Angioplasty is a conventional treatment for coronary heart disease (CHD) and heart attacks (acute coronary syndrome).
Doctors may recommend angioplasty to:
treat an abnormal stress test
increase blood flow to the heart
reduce chest pain, or angina
improve blood supply to the heart muscle during or after a heart attack
support more activity for people with chest pain
Before beginning angioplasty, a healthcare professional will clean and numb the area where the catheter enters the body, usually the groin but sometimes the wrist. Next, a doctor inserts the catheter into the artery and directs it towards the coronary artery, watching its progress on an X-ray feed. Once the catheter is in position, the doctor injects a contrast dye through the artery, which helps identify blockages around the heart. Once they locate the blockages, the doctor inserts a second catheter and a guidewire, usually with a balloon at the tip. When the second catheter is in position, the doctor inflates the balloon, which pushes the plaque buildup away and opens up the artery. The surgeon may insert a stent to keep the artery propped open.