Coronary Angioplasty - Medical Negligence Solicitors – Compensation Claims

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Coronary Angioplasty

A coronary angioplasty is done when there is a narrowing of the coronary arteries such that a heart attack would happen if the blockage were left unchecked. The coronary arteries can be completely blocked or severely narrowed at the time of the coronary angioplasty. When it is successful, it can allow blood to flow to the muscle of the heart.

As you get older, plaque builds up inside all your arteries. This is known as having atherosclerosis. When this waxy substance builds up in the coronary arteries, there aren’t any duplicate arteries to take up the slack so that heart attacks can happen. When your coronary arteries are affected, the disease is called coronary artery disease or coronary heart disease.

When the plaque is in the coronary artery, it gradually narrows the artery. Suddenly, a part of the plaque can break off, closing the artery further down, resulting in a sudden heart attack and possible sudden death. If the blockage is not complete, the patient may develop angina, which is the pain that occurs when the heart isn’t receiving the proper amount of oxygen.

The purpose of the angioplasty is to immediately restore blood to the heart. It is best done before the condition becomes too serious and before the patient has had a heart attack already. One or several arteries can be treated with a coronary angioplasty at the same time.

The procedure is done as follows: A thin catheter is threaded from a peripheral artery up to the artery affected by plaque. The catheter is flexible and has a balloon at the end of it. The catheter reaches the narrowed part of the artery and the balloon is inflated, squishing the plaque up against the wall of the artery. Blood flow is restored to the area supplied by the artery.

Coronary angioplasty is common but is not without risks. Most complications are minor and do not lead to later problems with the patient. Some are more severe.

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Complications

The major complications of an angioplasty include:

  • Pain or discomfort at the site where the catheter is inserted.
  • Bleeding, which can be severe, at the site of catheter insertion.
  • Damage to blood vessels along the path of the catheter to the heart.
  • An irregular heartbeat, also called an arrhythmia.
  • An allergy, which can be severe, to the dye used in the process of doing the angioplasty.
  • An injury to the artery that requires an emergency coronary artery bypass graft, which is major heart surgery.
  • The kidney can be damaged due to an incompatibility with the IV contrast dye.
  • Stroke, from a piece of the plaque breaking off and going to the brain.
  • Sustaining a heart attack.
  • Chest pain occurring at the time the balloon is inserted.

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Risks

Not everyone has the same risk of complications while doing the coronary angioplasty. While the procedure can be fatal, most people do fine, even if they have a complication. Those at higher risk for complications include:

  • People with chronic or end-stage kidney disease.
  • Those who are older than 65 years of age.
  • Those who have many blocked arteries in their heart.
  • Those who have had a heart attack in the past.
  • Those who are in cardiogenic shock at the time of the procedure.

The risk of death from a coronary angioplasty is about two percent.

People can have a hard tube placed at the site of the angioplasty. It is believed that this prolongs the effectiveness. If just a coronary angioplasty is performed, the artery can become blocked again within about six months following the procedure. If the doctor instead uses a stent, only fifteen percent will have a problem with a repeat blockage compared to a rate of thirty percent if a stent is not used.


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