Angioplasty Complications: Angioplasty Procedure Pros And Cons

Angioplasty is a procedure to remove the blockage in the arteries formed by fatty substance and subsequently increase the blood flow through the artery. The procedure involves introducing a balloon in the large artery either of the leg or the arm and then it is passed to the site of the blockage where it is inflated to widen the blocked arterial vessel.

The inflated balloon pushes the fat towards the wall of the artery clearing its blockage. The balloon is carried on the tip of a tube which is inserted in the artery, this tube is called catheter.

Deposition of fat in arterial walls is called plaque. It can cause either partial or complete blockage of the artery and formation of blood clots. Nowadays, a stent is used to prevent re-narrowing of the arteries. Two types of angioplasties are frequently performed, they are:

  • Balloon angioplasty
  • Coronary stenting.

Complications Of Balloon Angioplasty

Angioplasty is considered to be a life saving procedure, especially when the coronary arteries are blocked. It is useful in preventing heart attack. Though angioplasty is a safe procedure, there can be some risks and complications. Complications can be classified into two classes, acute complications and late complications.

Acute angioplasty complication: complication that occurs during the procedure or just after the procedure is acute complication. Though very rare with a well experienced cardiologist,

  • Abrupt closure of the artery leading to heart attack is one of the complications.
  • Dislodging of the blood clot which may block the artery completely leading to heart attack.

Late complication: even if angioplasty is successfully performed, the artery can become narrow few months later giving rise to chest pain. Medically it is called re-stenosis of the artery. To prevent gradual narrowing of the artery over a period of time, medicated coronary stents are used in recent times.

Pros And Cons Of Angioplasty Procedure

Even if angioplasty is considered as a boon in treating coronary artery blockages and preventing heart attack, it has its pros and cons similar to any medical procedures. They are as follows.

Pros:

  • It reduces and removes the blockage in the artery.
  • It reduces the rate of heart attack in a person whose vessels are blocked.
  • It allows proper flow of blood through the artery, thus allows proper nutrition supply to the affected organ.
  • It diminishes death rate due to heart attack.
  • Angioplasty cures angina and breathing difficulty resulting from blocked coronary artery.
  • Stents used after ballooning prevents re-stenosis and growth of plaque at the same site.
  • Safe than bypass graft.
  • After angioplasty the quality of life is improved.

Cons:

  • Pain and bleeding at the site where the catheter is inserted.
  • Sudden heart attack during the procedure due to dislodgement of the clot which can block the artery completely.
  • Risk of complications increases with age. Usually person above the age of 70 years is at a greater risk.
  • Chances of gradual narrowing of the artery after the procedure in long term.
  • Risk increases with diabetes, multiple coronary blocks, kidney disease.
  • Perforation or damage to the artery while performing angioplasty, though it is very rare.

Long-Term Results Of Angioplasty

The long term results after angioplasty depends on many factors:

  • If the artery is only narrowed and not completely blocked, angioplasty is very successful in the long run.
  • If small portion of the artery is to be treated, the result for long term is excellent. However if the length of the artery involved is more, or if it is excessively damaged, the results in the long term are less favorable.
  • Long term results of angioplasty in large arteries are good as compared to smaller ones.
  • Re-stenosis is high in people suffering from diabetes, or in persons who does not stop smoking.

One Comment

  1. RS said:

    I am 86 years old. I am in fairly good health for my age except for gout flare ups and kidney problems. I do not have chest pain or shortness of breath. My doctor has advised me angioplasty while I had gone for a routine checkup. Should I undergo this surgery? Any there any medications that can avoid the surgery?

    June 20, 2013
    Reply

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