Understand Angioplasty - Angioplasty is recommended in case of a heart attack (acute myocardial infarction) to reduce damage to the heart muscle.
Heart diseases especially heart attack has become a leading cause of death worldwide. Angioplasty is a type of treatment for heart attack (acute myocardial infarction). It was first used in the early 1980's. Back then, the treatment was considered very controversial as the thought of treating a patient who was having a heart attack with an invasive procedure such as balloon angioplasty was considered almost reckless.
But today, coronary angioplasty is a standard treatment for heart attack. In this treatment, the blocked or narrowed coronary artery (due to the deposit of a fatty substance called plaque) is opened with balloon angioplasty. During this procedure, a small balloon is expanded inside the coronary artery to relieve the blockage. This restores the blood flow, and minimises damage to the heart muscle. The heart muscle like any other part of the body needs a continuous supply of blood and any interruption of blood flow damages the muscles of the heart.
Indications for Coronary Angioplasty
- Your doctor may recommend it to improve chest pain and shortness of breath caused by coronary heart disease.
- It is also recommended in case of a heart attack (acute myocardial infarction) to reduce damage to the heart muscle. Heart attack is caused if blood flow through a coronary artery is completely blocked.
- Some patients need to undergo angioplasty in order to reduce the risk of death.
Care after Coronary Angioplasty
After coronary angioplasty is done, the patient is transferred to a special care unit for observation. The doctor will advise you to lie still for a few hours so that the puncture wounds in the blood vessel in your arm or groin (upper thigh) seal completely. Your vital parameters such as heart rate and blood pressure, and the wound will be checked in the special care unit. A few hours after the procedure, you will be able to walk with help.
Going Home and care at Home
- Your diet, activity or exercises that you can do.
- When to follow up again with the doctor.
- You will be given medications to prevent blood clots from forming in the stent inserted in the artery to open the block and may be other medicines. It is important to follow your doctor’s recommendations regarding all medications.
- Care of the wound in your arm or groin (upper thigh) such as checking for signs of infection such as redness, swelling, or drainage around the area where the tube was inserted.
- Signs and symptoms for which you should call your doctor such as chest pain, shortness of breath, fever, and in case of bleeding where the tubes were inserted.
Most people after coronary angioplasty are able to return to work about 1 week after leaving the hospital. Follow up with your doctor as recommended. These check-ups are done to assess your progress, make changes as needed in your medicines, and to conduct any other necessary tests, after you leave the hospital. When you go for follow-up visits, make a list of all your concerns and questions and discuss them with your doctor.
Coronary angioplasty improves the symptoms of coronary heart disease (CHD). But it is not a cure for coronary heart disease or the risk factors that cause it. Healthy lifestyle changes are needed to prevent further symptoms and maintain the good results from angioplasty. Your doctor will advise you regarding lifestyle changes needed to reduce the risk factors for CHD. Healthy lifestyle changes include:
- Eating healthy and balanced diet.
- Quitting smoking.
- Regular exercise.
- Trying to be at a healthy weight. Losing weight if you are obese or overweight.
- Reducing your stress level.
- Taking your medicines as advised.
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