The coronary arteries are a critical aspect of body health, as they supply blood to deliver oxygen and nutrients to the heart. These arteries are wrapped around the outside of the heart, with smaller branches that enter the heart to deliver the blood the organ needs. 

Angioplasty: A life-saving procedure

Plaque is made up of deposits that can adhere to the walls of the coronary arteries, causing them to become narrower and less able to deliver the needed oxygen-rich blood. This condition is medically termed “atherosclerosis” and poses a grave health risk. Once you have been diagnosed with this condition, you will likely be scheduled for an angioplasty. This procedure has saved many, many lives.

An angioplasty involves placing a very thin, flexible tube (catheter) within a blood vessel, guided by real-time X-ray imaging on a monitor, to reach the narrowed section of the artery. Once in place, a tiny balloon at the tip of the catheter is inflated, which compresses the plaque deposits against the artery walls to create more space for the blood to flow. To further strengthen the area, a stent may be put in place. A stent is a medical device made of an expandable mesh coil that provides structure and support, so the artery remains open.

What is it like to have an angioplasty?

This procedure is performed by a board-certified cardiology specialist, along with a team of specially trained medical staff. When you are under the care of the medical team at San Diego Cardiac Center, you can be confident in our skills and experience with this important and delicate procedure. 

  • First, you will have an IV in your hand or arm, through which to deliver fluids, intravenous sedation, and blood-thinning medication. Very little, if any, discomfort occurs during the procedure. Your vital signs are continuously monitored, including blood pressure, oxygen levels, and heart rate. 
  • An area on your leg, arm, or wrist will be cleaned with antiseptic, and a small incision is made. A very thin, fine guidewire is placed within the blood vessel. With live X-ray imaging, your heart specialist threads a thin catheter to the coronary artery. 
  • Once the catheter is in position, a medical contrast dye is delivered through the catheter, allowing the heart doctor to identify the blocked or narrowed sections in the coronary arteries. The catheter is moved to the blockage, and a tiny balloon at the end is inflated, widening the artery. If several blockages are discovered, this may be repeated in each area. 
  • A stent (expandable mesh) is typically placed in the repaired artery to provide enough support to keep it open.
  • Once completed, the balloon is deflated, and the catheter is gently removed.

The procedure may require several hours to complete, based on the number of narrowed areas found and treated.

What is the recovery time after angioplasty?

Angioplasty involves a one-night stay at the hospital to monitor your recovery. You should be able to return to your usual activities within about a week. To help flush the contrast dye from your system, drink plenty of fluids. You will need to avoid any vigorous physical activities for several days. You will be provided with full aftercare instructions, and our team at San Diego Cardiac center is available to answer any of your questions or concerns.

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Why choose us for angioplasty?

You have the choice of several heart specialists, but when you are under the care of the heart specialists at San Diego Cardiac Center, you can be confident that your procedure will be performed by top professionals in the field of heart medicine. Our specialists at San Diego Cardiac Center offer the highest level of expertise and offer the entire spectrum of advanced cardiac care. 

We are very progressive in adopting new therapies through our clinical research experience, and we often deliver newer, more successful procedures and therapies before they are available at other heart clinics. We are equipped with cutting-edge technology and are familiar with newer procedures that are less invasive than the traditional approaches, with better outcomes and a faster recovery for our patients. 

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