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When healthy, our arteries carry blood to the heart and other organs of our body. This blood transports oxygen throughout our bodies. But obstructions formed from deposits called plaque can narrow an artery and make it more difficult for the heart to function properly. Over time, this often leads to chest pain, shortness of breath, and even heart attacks. If your physician believes your symptoms are related to narrowed or blocked arteries, they can schedule an angioplasty with Richmond University Medical Center’s cardiology department in Staten Island, New York, to identify blockages and restore optimal blood flow.

What Is an Angioplasty?

An angioplasty allows physicians to enter the circulatory system and address blocked vessels. Your cardiologist will create a small incision in an artery located in your arm or groin to insert a thin catheter. Contrast dye will be injected to make blockages appear more clearly. Then, using X-ray guidance, your cardiologist will guide the catheter to the blockage. Once there, a small balloon inside the catheter is inflated to stretch the walls of the artery, dislodging the blockage. When complete, blood flow will be restored without obstruction.

In some cases, your cardiologist may also install a stent during an angioplasty. These small metal tubes are typically coated in medication to encourage the artery to remain open. Angioplasty procedures with or without the insertion of a stent may not be suitable for everyone. For example, your physician may recommend a coronary bypass if you are diabetic, have multiple blocked arteries, or experience weak heart muscles.

How to Prepare for an Angioplasty

Be sure to follow all instructions leading up to the day of your procedure. These directions help make your procedure safer. Your angioplasty may be delayed if they’re not adhered to. Your physician will ask you to:

  • Note any medications you take, including supplements and natural remedies
  • If you are taking NSAIDs or any blood thinners, please be sure to inform your physician. You may be required to stop the medication.
  • Avoid drinking or eating for up to eight hours before the angioplasty
  • Bring all your medications to the hospital
  • If you need to take essential medications approved by your cardiologist, do so with a small sip of water.

What to Expect During an Angioplasty

During the angioplasty, a nurse will prepare the incision site with an antiseptic. You will not need general anesthesia during the procedure, but patients are given medication to help them feel at ease. This may or may not cause you to sleep.

The procedure may take several hours and can be repeated as necessary within a single session to eliminate multiple blockages. You may feel some slight pressure or discomfort, but the angioplasty will not cause severe pain. Afterward, you’ll need someone to drive you home. Most patients can return to work within a week.

When to Get an Angioplasty

Your cardiologist will determine which procedure is right for you, but angioplasties offer a less-invasive alternative to coronary bypass surgery for many. You may be recommended for an angioplasty in the following situations:

  • Your chest pain and shortness of breath have worsened
  • Exercise, a healthy diet, and other lifestyle adjustments fail to help
  • Medication cannot resolve your symptoms
  • Additionally, angioplasties are often performed after a heart attack to defend the heartagainst further damage. Remember, angioplasties do not cure coronary artery disease. A healthy lifestyle and taking prescribed medications are essential to your recovery.

Learn More About Angioplasties Today

If your doctor prescribes an angioplasty, Richmond University Medical Center’s team of experienced cardiologists and specialists are standing by to relieve your symptoms and improve your quality of life. To learn more about our  cardiology services or to schedule a consultation, contact us online or call 718-818-7425 today.