Angioplasty is not for everyone. It is often recommended in conjunction with medical therapy for people who:
• Have persistent and intolerable chest pains despite medical treatment
• Have moderate to severe arterial narrowing and a high risk of either a heart attack or death
Angioplasty is less often recommended if the main artery in the left side of your heart is narrowed or if your heart muscle is weak. It is also not recommended in cases of multiple diseased blood vessels. The procedure is also less effective in diabetics. For these patients, bypass surgery may be preferred. In coronary artery bypass surgery, the blocked part of your artery is bypassed using a blood vessel from another part of your body so that the blood flow makes a ‘detour’ before going to the heart.
Angioplasty is an invasive procedure and there are possible complications, although these are relatively infrequent. The risk depends on many individual factors which will be discussed with your cardiologist before the procedure. Some risks of angioplasty include: Re-narrowing of the artery or restenosis. With the introduction of stents, this is a less common occurrence. Drug-eluting stents for instance, reduce the risk of occurrence to less than 10%. Blood clots forming within stents. These clots can narrow or close the artery, causing a heart attack. To prevent this, adherence to the prescribed regimen of blood- thinning drugs helps reduce this risk. Bleeding at the incision site
Some bleeding or bruising where the catheter was inserted is normal, but serious bleeding can sometimes result.