The benefits and risks of angioplasty after a heart attack

Angioplasty is performed in order to open the blood vessels that supply the heart with blood.

If you have experienced a heart attack, you may have been referred for an angioplasty. The procedure is often performed in cases where it is necessary to open up the blood vessels, also known as the coronary arteries, that provide the heart with blood. There are a number of benefits to undergoing this procedure following a heart attack, but as with all surgeries, there are also some possible risks. Read on to find out more about the pros and cons of the treatment, and what it actually involves…

What is an angioplasty?  

The purpose of an angioplasty is to open the coronary arteries in order to improve the blood supply to the heart. In some cases, an angioplasty is done on its own, but it can also be combined with the surgical insertion of a stent. A stent helps with blood flow and prevents the artery from narrowing.

Although angioplasty surgery is often performed immediately after a heart attack, it may also be recommended for the relief of the symptoms commonly associated with heart disease.

What does the process involve?

In most cases, angioplasty is performed under a local anaesthetic. Your doctor will make a small incision in your arm or groin before inserting a catheter into the artery. Your doctor will then inject a contrast dye, which can be seen on an x-ray, through the catheter and into the artery. If necessary, a balloon angioplasty will be performed, in which case a tiny balloon will be inflated to widen the artery. During this process, any fatty deposits are pushed against the wall of the artery to make space for proper blood flow.

If your doctor deems it necessary, a stent will be used to keep the blood vessel open. This stent can remain in position even after the balloon has been removed.

What are the benefits of angioplasty?  

Angioplasty is often a highly effective means of restoring proper blood flow to the heart, and can prevent further damage to the heart following a heart attack. The surgery can also help to alleviate chest pain, as well as shortness of breath and some of the other symptoms of heart disease.

In some cases, angioplasty can reduce the need for more invasive heart surgery, while also lowering the risk of heart attack.

Are there any risks?

Like all surgical procedures, angioplasty does come with possible risks. Some of the potential risks associated with the surgery include bleeding, clotting or bruising at the site of catheter insertion; an irregular heartbeat; damage to the blood vessels; and infection. Your doctor will explain all of these risks to you and address any questions or concerns that you have.

It is important to understand the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle after you have had an angioplasty procedure. Chat to your doctor if you need advice regarding proper nutrition and exercise, and be sure to take any medications that you have been prescribed. By committing to healthy habits, you will lower your risk of further heart-related problems in the future.

How can we help?

At North Western Vascular, we offer a comprehensive range of vascular procedures, including angioplasty in cases where it is necessary to increase blood flow through narrow arteries. Whenever we perform endovascular procedures such as angioplasty, we work in our catheter lab under extremely sterile conditions. To find out whether or not you are a suitable candidate for treatment, we will begin the process by performing a diagnostic angiogram. We will then be able to make a decision as to whether intervention is possible, and if so, if this should be performed with balloon angioplasty alone, or with a stent.

If you would like to find out more about the angiogram procedure and what it involves, please have a look here.

If you would like to book an appointment, please get in touch here, or alternatively call us on 03 9372 9999.

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