Angioplasty

What Is Coronary Angioplasty?

Coronary angioplasty (AN-jee-oh-plas-tee) is a medical procedure in which a balloon is used to open a blockage in a coronary (heart) artery narrowed by atherosclerosis (ATH-er-o-skler-O-sis). This procedure improves blood flow to the heart.

Atherosclerosis is a condition in which a material called plaque (plak) builds up on the inner walls of the arteries. This can happen in any artery, including the coronary arteries. The coronary arteries carry oxygen-rich blood to your heart. When atherosclerosis affects the coronary arteries, the condition is called coronary artery disease (CAD).

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.

Angioplasty is done on more than 1 million people a year in the United States. Serious complications don’t occur often, but can happen no matter how careful your doctor is, or how well he or she does the procedure.

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.

January 2009

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