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What are the Different Reasons for an Angioplasty?

By Debra Durkee
Updated May 17, 2024
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An angioplasty is a procedure used to open arteries blocked by buildup. The procedure can be done for a number of reasons, including lowering the individual's chances of suffering a heart attack or of developing heart disease. It can also be used for individuals who have been diagnosed with angina. A primary angioplasty is done as more of an emergency procedure for damage control, while an elective procedure is done on an individual who shows signs of risk for developing heart disease or suffering cardiac arrest.

The development of angina is often a symptom of heart disease. It manifests itself as a heaviness in the chest, shoulders, or neck, and is sometimes accompanied by a painful burning sensation. Angina is caused when there is insufficient blood flow into the heart, which typically occurs when arteries have been blocked by buildup. An angioplasty can be done to clear out the blockages, reopen the vessels, and help reduce an individual's chances of suffering from a heart attack.

If the individual has already suffered from a heart attack, an angioplasty can be done in order to restore blood flow and help prevent further damage to the heart. A heart attack usually occurs because of a loss in blood flow to the heart and a blockage in one of the arteries. Performing an angioplasty can clear the blockage and restore the freedom of blood flow to the muscles, and the faster this is done. the more success there will likely be in averting severe damage to muscles and arteries. Research has shown that performing an angioplasty in less than 90 minutes after the heart attack can help speed recovery and reduce damage to the heart.

Conditions like high cholesterol can result in the buildup of substances inside the arteries and restrict blood flow to the heart or other part of the body. Once fatty or sticky substances adhere to the walls of the arteries, white blood cells, platelets, and nutrients such as calcium can become stuck to the fatty mass and narrow the arteries even further. An angioplasty can be conducted in order to clear out these masses.

An angioplasty, also known as percutaneous coronary intervention, is only a temporary solution. It is often done in response to an immediate threat, and will give medical professionals a chance to determine the underlying cause for the obstruction. Medication and lifestyle changes often follow the procedure in order to ensure that the arteries opened remain unobstructed.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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