Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) affects almost 1.3 million Americans, making it the most common form of heart disease. CAD most often results from a condition known as atherosclerosis, which happens when a waxy substance forms inside the arteries that supply blood to your heart. This substance, called plaque, is made of cholesterol, fatty compounds, calcium, and a blood-clotting material called fibrin. As the plaque builds up, the artery narrows, making it more difficult for blood to flow to the heart.
What Is Balloon Angioplasty ?
Interventional cardiologists perform angioplasty, which opens narrowed arteries. They use a long, thin tube called a catheter that has a small balloon on its tip. They inflate the balloon at the blockage site in the artery to flatten or compress the plaque against the artery wall. Angioplasty is also called percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA).
What Happens After The Procedure ?
After you leave the hospital, you should drink plenty of fluids and avoid driving, bathing, and smoking for 1 or 2 days after the procedure. You should also avoid standing or walking for long periods for at least 2 days after the procedure. If you received a stent, you should avoid vigorous exercise for 30 days.
If you had angioplasty with or without stent placement, you will need to take aspirin every day for the rest of your life. If you had a stent placed, you will need to take a blood-thinning medicine or antiplatelet therapy for a year or longer. Your doctor will tell you how and when to take these medicines.
About 35% to 40% of patients who have balloon angioplasty are at risk of more blockages in the treated area. This is called restenosis. Restenosis usually happens within 6 months after balloon angioplasty. Arteries that have stents can re-close, as well. Restenosis occurs in about 20% of patients with stents. If restenosis occurs, patients may need to have another balloon angioplasty or stent procedure.
Balloons are used in the majority of interventional procedures. These devices are inflated to compress the plaque against the artery wall, much like footsteps in the snow, in a procedure known as "angioplasty", sometimes called "balloon dilatation", sometimes "PTCA" (percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty).
A newer type of stent, the drug-eluting stent or DES, has recently become the overwhelming choice of cardiologists. Two types are currently available in the in the United States: Boston Scientific's TAXUS paclitaxel-eluting stent and the CYPHER sirolimus-eluting stent, made by Johnson & Johnson / Cordis. Both stents are basically a bare metal stent that has been coated with a slow-to-moderate-release drug formulation, embedded in a polymer. It has been shown the medicine used will prevent or at least reduce restenosis, reclosure of the coronary artery, one of the biggest limitations of angioplasty and causes for repeat procedures.
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