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Coronary Angioplasty

Coronary angioplasty, also called percutaneous coronary intervention, is a procedure used to open clogged heart arteries. Angioplasty uses a tiny balloon catheter that is inserted in a blocked blood vessel to help widen it and improve blood flow to the heart.

Angioplasty is often combined with the placement of a small wire mesh tube called a stent. The stent helps prop the artery open, decreasing its chance of narrowing again. Most stents are coated with medication to help keep the artery open (drug-eluting stents). Rarely, bare-metal stents are used.

Angioplasty can improve symptoms of blocked arteries, such as chest pain and shortness of breath. Angioplasty is also often used during a heart attack to quickly open a blocked artery and reduce the amount of damage to the heart.

Why it's done

Angioplasty is used to treat the buildup of fatty plaques in the 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 these have not improved your heart health.
  • You have chest pain (angina) that is worsening.
  • You have a heart attack. Angioplasty can quickly open a blocked artery, reducing damage to your heart.

Angioplasty isn't for everyone. 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.


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