Coronary angioplasty is a procedure used to open narrow or blocked coronary (heart) arteries. The procedure restores blood flow to the heart muscle.
As person ages, a waxy substance called plaque can build up inside your arteries. It can affect any artery in the body, but when it affects the coronary arteries, the condition is called coronary heart disease (CHD) or coronary artery disease.
Over time, plaque can harden or rupture / break open. Hardened plaque narrows the coronary arteries and reduces the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the heart. This can cause chest pain or discomfort called angina.
If the plaque ruptures, a blood clot can form on its surface. A large blood clot can mostly or completely block blood flow through a coronary artery. This is the most common cause of a heart attack. Over time, ruptured plaque also hardens and narrows the coronary arteries.
Angioplasty can restore blood flow to the heart. A balloon known as ‘stent’ is used for this procedure. During the procedure, a thin, flexible catheter (tube) with a stent at its tip is threaded through a blood vessel to the affected artery. Once in place, the stent is inflated to compress the plaque against the artery wall. This restores blood flow through the artery.
Doctors may use the procedure to improve symptoms of CHD, such as angina. The procedure also can reduce heart muscle damage caused by a heart attack.