Who is it for?
You may or may not be a good candidate for angioplasty and stenting. If you have blockages in your arteries, your doctor will assess the severity of your cardiovascular disease (CVD), your risk factors, and your ability to take medication and tolerate the side effects to determine where you fit best among a range of treatment options.
If you’re at the beginning stages of CVD, changing lifestyle habits, such as diet and exercise, might be enough to get you on track for good health. For other patients, medication in addition to lifestyle changes may be the best approach for slowing or reversing the progress of CVD.
But if you’re taken to the emergency room for a heart attack, research findings and medical guidelines clearly recommend treatment with angioplasty and stenting as the first-line treatment option. In fact, if you’re having a heart attack, angioplasty and stenting can save your heart muscle and your life.
If you’re considering angioplasty and stenting to ease chest pain, shortness of breath, and other symptoms of heart disease that have been stable and going on for weeks or months or to resolve symptoms of blockages in arteries elsewhere in your body, you may want to take some time to learn more about the procedure and options for treating those specific conditions before making a decision. Discuss this and other treatment options with your health care providers—with their medical training, experience, and knowledge of practice guidelines, they will consider your unique medical history, risk factors, current symptoms, lifestyle expectations, and the results of tests to arrive at a recommended treatment plan that works best for you.
Treating heart attacks and angina
You can have angioplasty in one or more arteries in your body. Angioplasty and stenting in a heart (coronary) artery can be effective in both emergency situations and as elective procedures.
Acute coronary syndrome (ACS), unstable angina, and heart attack are all terms that describe an emergency situation where the heart is not receiving the oxygen-rich blood it needs to function. Without immediate treatment, such as angioplasty and stenting, to restore the flow of blood, the heart can suffer severe damage or stop working altogether, resulting in heart failure or even death.
Stable angina is another condition where clogged or blocked arteries affect the heart muscle. Stable angina isn’t an emergency. It causes discomfort and can interfere with your daily activities, but your heart isn’t in immediate danger. Angioplasty and stenting are also used to treat stable angina, but it isn’t the only option and because it’s elective, you can take your time to consider other options such as anti-anginal medications and risk factor modification.
Treating stroke, renal artery stenosis (RAS), and peripheral artery disease (PAD)
Angioplasty and stenting can also be used to treat plaque buildup in other arteries of the body. The carotid arteries, which deliver blood to the brain, may undergo stenting to prevent a stroke. Angioplasty and stenting can also be used and to restore blood flow to the kidneys, arms, and legs. The procedure is appropriate for some patients who have renal artery stenosis (RAS), or peripheral artery disease (PAD).
On Sept. 16, 1977, Dolf Bachmann became the first patient to undergo balloon angioplasty. More than 40 years later, Mr. Bachmann described himself as “in excellent condition, free of complications and happy all around.”