Cardiovascular disease and heart conditions are among the biggest health threats today. Statistics show that an American dies every 34 seconds due to a heart-related illness. Heart health is an essential part of overall wellness. Should someone notice heart symptoms, there could be an underlying condition like coronary heart disease. A cardiologist will sometimes recommend angioplasty and cardiac stent, a potentially lifesaving procedure. Keeping heart health a top priority can get people much-needed help quickly.
What is angioplasty?
Angioplasty is a procedure to help lessen the consequences of coronary artery disease (CAD). With CAD, the arteries have plaque buildup, reducing the amount of blood and oxygen to the heart. As a result, people with coronary artery disease suffer from chest pain, fatigue, and shortness of breath. There is also an increased risk of a heart attack when there is a complete blockage. Angioplasty can help improve blood flow without the need for major heart surgery. A cardiologist will recommend the procedure to prevent a future heart attack or treat a current one in an emergency.
What happens during angioplasty?
The patient will receive pain medication and other intravenous medication to relax. Next, a surgeon will pass a long tube called a catheter into the blocked artery. Using an x-ray technique called fluoroscopy, the surgeon directs the catheter to the desired location. The catheter will have a tiny balloon at the tip to increase the space of the artery. The surgeon inflates the balloon, pressing the artery's walls and creating more space for blood to flow. Once the procedure is completed, the catheter is removed, and the patient is sent to recovery.
Do you need a stent?
Angioplasties were once a stand-alone procedure. Now, almost all involve a cardiac stent. A stent is a small mesh device placed in the artery after angioplasty. The mesh coil keeps the space in the artery and may prevent future plaque buildup. The doctor will coat the stent with a particular medication to avoid tissue buildup, scarring, or blood clots. Over time, the artery walls will integrate with the stent. The patient should receive medication over time to prevent platelet buildup or other complications.
When should you see a cardiologist?
There are usually warning signs or pre-existing conditions that should signal a trip to the cardiologist. A simple visit can provide the proper diagnosis and treatment, ranging from medication to angioplasty and cardiac stent. Anyone experiencing recurring chest pain, shortness of breath, and dizziness should see a cardiologist. Patients with high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, and kidney disease should see a cardiologist. These diseases increase the risk of heart disease or heart attacks. If a family member has heart disease or a heart attack, make sure to get checked.
A lifesaving decision
This simple procedure can help increase blood flow and oxygen to one of the body’s most vital organs. Heart disease and other conditions can limit blood flow. Over time, the chances of a heart attack increase significantly. A cardiologist has the tools and expertise to assess and treat plaque buildup and other conditions. Angioplasty is one of the most significant lifesaving decisions someone with CAD or suspected heart conditions can make.