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.
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.
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:
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