Angioplasty and stents

Last updated date: 13-Dec-2021


4 mins read

Angioplasty and stents

Angioplasty is a procedure to open narrowed or blocked coronary vessels that supply blood to the heart. Angioplasty is often combined with the placement of a wire mesh tube called a stent. A coronary artery stent is a metal mesh tube that expands inside a coronary artery to support the artery walls to prevent collapses and constrictions. A stent is often placed during or immediately after angioplasty. It helps to prevent the artery from closing up again, thus facilitating good blood flow to the heart.

Angioplasty is a procedure to remove the buildup of fatty plaques in your heart's blood vessels. This buildup is a type of heart disease known as atherosclerosis. Angioplasty may be a treatment option for you if:

  • You have tried medications or lifestyle changes but have not improved your heart health
  • You have chest pain (angina) that is severe
  • You have a heart attack. Angioplasty can quickly open a blocked artery, reducing damage to your heart.

Angioplasty is not for everyone, according to reputable medical institutions such as the Mayo Clinic. Depending on the extent of your heart disease and your overall health, your doctor may determine that coronary artery bypass surgery is a better option than angioplasty for you.

You may need coronary artery bypass surgery if:

  • The main artery that brings blood to the left side of your heart is narrow
  • Your heart muscle is weak
  • You have diabetes and multiple severe blockages in your arteries

In coronary artery bypass surgery, the blocked part of your artery is bypassed using a healthy blood vessel from another part of your body.

Although angioplasty is a less invasive way to open clogged arteries than bypass surgery is, the procedure still has some known risks, including:

    Re-narrowing of your artery. When angioplasty is combined with drug-eluting stent (drug coated to prevent artery collapse) placement, there is a small risk the treated artery may become clogged again (less than 5%). The risk of re-narrowing of the artery is higher at about 10% to 20% when bare-metal stents are used.

    Blood clots. Blood clots can form within stents even after the procedure. These clots can close the artery, causing a heart attack. It is important to take aspirin in combination with another prescribed medication that helps reduce the risk of blood clots as prescribed to decrease the chance of clots forming in your stent and blocking blood flow, again.

    Bleeding. You may have bleeding in your leg or arm where a catheter was inserted. Usually this simply results in a bruise, but sometimes serious bleeding occurs and may require a blood transfusion or surgical procedures.

    Heart attack. Though rare, you may have a heart attack during the procedure.

    Coronary artery damage. Your coronary artery may be torn or ruptured during the procedure. These complications may require emergency bypass surgery.

    Kidney problems. The dye used during angioplasty and stent placement can cause kidney damage, especially in people who already have kidney problems. If you are at increased risk, your doctor may take steps to try to protect your kidneys, such as limiting the amount of contrasting dye and making sure that you're well hydrated during the procedure.

   Stroke. During angioplasty, a stroke can occur if plaques break loose when the catheters are being threaded through the aorta. Blood clots also can form in catheters and travel to the brain if they break loose. A stroke is an extremely rare complication of coronary angioplasty, and blood thinners are used during the procedure to reduce such risk.

    Abnormal heart rhythms. During the procedure, the heart may beat too quickly or too slowly. These heart rhythm problems are usually short-lived, but sometimes medications or a temporary pacemaker is needed.

Most people who have an angioplasty also have a stent placed in their blocked artery during the same procedure. A stent, which looks like a tiny coil of wire mesh, supports the walls of your artery, and helps prevent it from re-narrowing or collapse of the walls after the angioplasty procedure.

The stent, which is collapsed around a balloon at the tip of the catheter, is guided through the artery to the blockage. At the blockage, the balloon is inflated, and the spring-like stent expands and locks into place inside the artery. The stent stays in the artery permanently to hold it open and improve blood flow to your heart. In some cases, more than one stent may be needed to open a blockage. Once the stent is in place, the balloon catheter is deflated and removed. Angiograms are taken to see how well blood flows through your newly widened artery. Most stents implanted during an angioplasty are drug coated. The medication in the stent is slowly released to help prevent future plaque buildup and the re-narrowing of the blood vessel. After your stent placement, anti-clotting medicines such as aspirin or others are administered to prevent subsequent clots which would block blood flow.

If you enjoyed reading this article and wish to learn more about various healthcare options around the world, please visit CloudHospital is the global healthcare nexus on the web, easily accessible 24/7 and staffed with highly experienced professionals in the field of medical services access across the world.


Other Articles