Health Care and Angioplasty

- April 17, 2015
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Millions of Americans suffer from various forms of heart disease—ischemic, rheumatic, hypertensive, inflammatory, congenital, and cerebrovascular. According to the World Heart Federation, there are multiple reasons for each of these medical diagnoses. The heart is a critical organ and is responsible for pumping life giving blood throughout your body from birth until death. Your heart is the size of your fist and the strongest muscle in your body.

Your heart started beating about three weeks after you were conceived. If you live to be 70 your heart will have beat 2.5 billion times. Each heartbeat pumps blood around the body, pushing it from the left heart chambers, through arteries of ever-decreasing size, finally reaching the capillaries in all parts of the body. Once your body has taken oxygen and nutrients from the blood, it is returned to the heart via the veins to the right chambers of the heart. On its way back, the blood passes through the liver and waste products are removed.

As marvelous as this system is, it is very vulnerable to damage from the things we do to it, like smoking, eating an unhealthy diet or putting it under stress. Or you may be born with a heart condition. When your heart’s functions become compromised, this is known as cardiovascular disease, a broad term that covers any disorder to the system that has the heart at its center. For much more detailed information about heart disease in general, visit this site:

One way to help improve some types of heart disease, and to help prevent heart attacks, is through a medical procedure called angioplasty--a term describing a procedure used to widenvessels narrowed by stenoses or occlusions, according to the There arevarious types of theseprocedures and theirnames are associatedwith the typeof vessel entry andequipment used.

For example, percutaneoustransluminal angioplasty (PTA) describes entrythrough the skin(percutaneous) and navigates to the areaof the vessel of interestthrough the samevessel or one thatcommunicates with it (transluminal). In the caseof a procedure involving the coronary arteries,the point of entrycould be the femoralartery in the groinand the catheter/guidewiresystem is passed throughthe aorta to theheart and theorigin of the coronaryarteries at the baseof the aorta justoutside the aorticvalve. For more technical aspects of angioplasty, visit this website:

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), you have angioplasty in a hospital. The doctor threads a thin tube through a blood vessel in the arm or groin up to the involved site in the artery. The tube has a tiny balloon on the end. When the tube is in place, the doctor inflates the balloon to push the plaque outward against the wall of the artery. This widens the artery and restores blood flow.

Doctors may use angioplasty to reduce chest pain caused by reduced blood flow to the heart and to minimize damage to heart muscle from a heart attack. Many people go home the day after angioplasty, and are able to return to work within a week of coming home. More details are located at this website for your research:

Angioplasty with or without vascular stenting is commonly used to treat conditions that involve a narrowing or blockage of arteries or veins throughout the body. When undergoing this procedure, there are definitely benefits and risks to be considered for angioplasty. Angioplasty should be considered with your physician, cardiologist, or medical heart specialist. Not to be taken lightly, the procedure saves lives, but is not without risk. Consulting your health care team for this event is critical for your long term survival if you suffer from any heart disease. A significant amount of detailed information concerning angioplasty can be found at this website:

According to this website,, if cardiologists can reopen blocked blood vessels with an angioplasty balloon within a couple of hours after a heart attack begins, blood flow can be restored and heart damage prevented. Time from arriving at the hospital to receiving angioplasty is called “door-to-balloon time” and in the past few years many hospitals have made significant strides in shortening “D2B” time, often treating patients with angioplasty within an hour.

Angioplasty within 90 minutes of arriving at the emergency department is the gold standard of treatment for heart attack, recommended by all the major medical societies. If you or a member of your family is at risk for heart attack (have coronary artery disease, a family history of heart disease, or risk factors such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure), it makes sense to educate yourself ahead of time, and make a heart attack emergency plan as noted below from :

1)    Learn the Symptoms: Listen to Your Body. Familiarize yourself with the range of heart attack symptoms. Heart attacks can involve slow and subtle warning signs; people rarely collapse to the floor clenching their chest as in the movies. Pay attention to your body and what it is telling you -- no one wants to be a hypochondriac, but when it comes to heart attack, it’s way better to be safe than sorry. Most heart attack victims wait hours before going to the hospital, greatly decreasing their chance to benefit from angioplasty. For angioplasty to be most effective, the quicker you get to the hospital to get checked out the better.

2)    Call an Ambulance: Know the number to call an ambulance and don’t be embarrassed to use it; don’t drive yourself or have a family member drive you unless it’s your only option. Ambulances are usually equipped to begin administering tests and emergency care en route, saving you precious time. And, you will be attended to more quickly when you get to the ER if you arrive by ambulance. Time is muscle; you don’t want to be delayed by traffic or bureaucracy. While you wait for the ambulance, take an aspirin, which can help thin your blood and discourage clotting.
3)  Plan Ahead to get the Best Care: Do some research ahead of time to determine which hospital in your area offers the best heart attack treatment. It’s good to know what your options are. In some parts of the country, sophisticated systems have been set up to transfer heart attack victims from community hospitals to regional centers that have cath labs. You want to go to the closest ER that has a catheterization lab, or if there are no cath labs in your area, go to a community hospital that has an effective system for quickly diagnosing and then transferring heart attack victims to a facility that offers angioplasty services.

Angioplasty when performed in a timely basis can save your life. Living with heart disease isn't simple. But it's something millions of people manage to do. Knowing your body, and your family heart history definitely helps with learning the warning signs and developing an action plan.

Until next time.
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