What is Balloon Angioplasty?

Balloon Angioplasty is a medical procedure that utilises a balloon to clear narrow or obstructed blood vessels in the heart. While this treatment addresses the condition, it does not address the underlying cause of the narrowed arteries. It is important to note that up to 25% of cases may experience recurring narrowing within six months. Additional treatment may or may not be necessary in the case of recurring narrowing.

How is Balloon Angioplasty Performed?

The Balloon Angioplasty procedure typically lasts between 1 and 2 hours. Although patients remain conscious throughout, local anaesthesia is administered, and pain medication can be provided as required. The procedure involves:

  1. A surgeon inserts a small balloon catheter into an artery, either in the groyne or arm.
  2. The catheter is then navigated towards the constriction in the coronary artery.
  3. Once positioned correctly, the balloon is inflated to widen the gap.
  4. In certain scenarios, a stent made of wire mesh is inflated alongside the balloon and remains in place to bolster the artery walls.

Purpose of the Procedure

Balloon Angioplasty serves multiple purposes:

  • Alleviating angina chest pain.
  • Enhancing the prognosis for patients with unstable angina.
  • Reducing or halting a heart attack without necessitating open-heart surgery.

Potential Risks and Complications

All surgical procedures come with inherent risks. Some potential complications associated with Balloon Angioplasty include:

  • Anesthesia-related complications, such as respiratory or cardiac issues.
  • Infections.
  • Bleeding at the catheter insertion site, such as the groin.
  • Total obstruction of blood flow to a heart segment (a minor risk of less than 1%).
  • Damage to valves or blood vessels.
  • Stroke.
  • Arrhythmia or irregular heartbeats.
  • Kidney failure.
  • Allergic reactions to the X-ray dye.

By diligently following post-surgery instructions and guidelines provided by the physician, these risks can be minimized.

Alternative Treatments

If balloon angioplasty is not effective in widening the arteries or if the blockages are too severe, open-heart surgery may be recommended as an alternative.

Eligibility for Balloon Angioplasty

In order to evaluate eligibility for this procedure, a comprehensive examination and consultation with a physician are essential. Ultimately, the medical professional will make the final decision based on their assessment.