Coronary angioplasty is a medical procedure in which a balloon is used to open a blockage in a coronary artery narrowed by atherosclerosis. This procedure improves blood flow to the heart. Angioplasty is a common medical procedure.
It may be used to:
Improve symptoms of CAD, such as angina and shortness of breath.
Reduce damage to the heart muscle from a heart attack. A heart attack occurs when blood flow through a coronary artery is completely blocked. Angioplasty is used during a heart attack to open the blockage and restore blood flow through the artery.
Reduce the risk of death in some patients.
Other important notes
Although angioplasty is normally safe, there is a small risk of serious complications, such as:
Bleeding from the blood vessel where the catheter was placed.
Damage to blood vessels from the catheter.
An allergic reaction to the dye given during the angioplasty.
An arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat).
The need for emergency coronary artery bypass grafting during the procedure (2–4 percent of people). This may occur when an artery closes down, instead of opening up.
Damage to the kidneys caused by the dye used.
Heart attack (3–5 percent of people).
Stroke (less than 1 percent of people).
As with any procedure involving the heart, complications can sometimes, though rarely, cause death. Less than 2 percent of people die during angioplasty. Sometimes chest pain can occur during angioplasty because the balloon briefly blocks off the blood supply to the heart.
The risk of complications is higher in:
People aged 75 and older
People who have kidney disease or diabetes
People who have poor pumping function in their hearts
People who have extensive heart disease and blockages
Research on angioplasty is ongoing to make it safer and more effective, to prevent treated arteries from closing again, and to make the procedure an option for more people.