When the coronary arteries are too narrow or blocked due to coronary artery disease, the heart does not get enough oxygen-rich blood, causing chest pain, shortness of breath, or even heart attack. Angioplasty is a procedure to open up the clogged arteries and improve blood flow to the heart.
Angioplasty is relatiively common, with more than one million people in the U.S. underoing the procedure each year. It is also referred to as percutaneous coronary intervention or balloon angioplasty.
During angioplasty, a catheter (small tube) with a balloon on its tip is inserted into the artery in your groin area and threaded to the affected coronary arteries. When the balloon is expanded, it widens and stretches out the artery, pushing plaque away and improving blood flow to the heart..
Oftentimes, a mesh tube called a stent is placed into the artery during angioplasty. The stent expands with the balloon, attaches to the artery wall, and supports the artery to reduce the chance of future narrowing or blockage.
Read more about cardiac catheterization and other interventional procedures.