About the Treatment
The process of angioplasty involves insertion of a thin tube surgically through a blood vessel in the arm or groin and which is then guided to the area of problem in the artery. On the end, the tube includes a tiny balloon. As the tube reaches the right area where the problem is, the surgeon inflates the balloon in order to push the plaque in an outward direction against the wall of the artery. This process results in the widening of the artery and enables restoration of the blood flow. The angioplasty procedure may either be done to reduce chest pain due to disrupted blood flow to the heart or to minimize the heart muscle damage due to a heart attack. It can also be used in some other major blood vessel in the body.
- The patient will have to perform a routine blood test and an electrocardiogram. These tests are usually scheduled a day prior to the procedure.
- Eating or drinking will be prohibited before 12 to 14 hours of the procedure.
- If one wears a hearing assistance device or glasses, it is suggested to carry them along. These might be required during the angioplasty procedure for effective communication.
- It is also suggested to inform the doctor who will be performing the angioplasty if the patient is consuming diuretics (water pills), Coumadin (warfarin), or insulin. Besides, if the patient is allergic to anything, especially shellfish, X-ray dye, iodine, latex or rubber products, penicillin-type medications etc. the same should be conveyed positively.
- The patient might be required to take aspirin before the procedure. It is suggested to inform the doctor or nurse if the patient has not taken aspirin.
- The patient remains awake during the angioplasty, but is given enough medication to assist in relaxing.
- During the very first stage of angioplasty, a cardiac catheterization is performed. The patient is provided with a local anaesthetic in the catheter inserting area in order to make it numb and to help the patient relax.
- The next process includes the insertion of the sheath into an artery (usually through the patient’s groin, but at times through the arm). Then, the catheter is passed through the sheath and guided towards the arteries surrounding the heart.
- A minimal quantity of contrast material is injected through the catheter and is monitored with the help of an X-ray as the contrast material moves through the heart's chambers, valves, and major vessels.
- The digital images of the contrast material on a monitor assist the doctors to determine whether the coronary arteries are narrowed and if the heart valves are performing flawlessly.
- If the outcome from the x-rays suggests going ahead with the angioplasty, the doctor will move the catheter into the artery that is experiencing a blockage and then perform one of the interventional procedures, i.e., one among balloon angioplasty, stent, rotablation, atherectomy, and cutting balloon. The stent of various types can be inserted to maintain blood flow. (Stents are of various types and their costs can vary from USD 1000 to 2000)
- The duration of the procedure may vary between 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours.
- The patient might be asked to stay in the hospital overnight for observation and the recovery might take several hours.
- After the sheath is removed from the groin, the patient must lay flat for about six hours to prevent bleeding. The patient will be informed when to leave the bed with assistance post the removal of groin sheath.
- In order to prevent nausea, the patients are requested to consume only clear liquids until the groin sheath is removed.
- Once the patient is allowed to eat, the doctor will advise to follow a heart-healthy diet. In some cases, the patient might require staying in the hospital overnight for observation.
- The patient will have to take it easy for a few days after the angioplasty is performed. One may climb stairs only at a slower pace and not strain during the movements of the bowel.
- Medication and recovery process will have to be followed exactly as instructed by the doctor.
- The patient might experience fever, chest pain, a swelling, pain in the groin or leg. In such as case, the doctor or the nurse should be notified immediately.
- Bleeding from the groin area after returning home might happen. Call for emergency medical assistance and lie down immediately in this situation. Take out the dressing and push down on your pulse in the affected area.
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