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Carotid Angioplasty

Carotid Angioplasty

The heart is a compact muscle, a little bigger than the fist. It is the body's main processing chamber, where oxygenated blood is channelized to different parts of the body, and cellular waste finally makes its way for replacement. However, when the blood vessels that assist the heart muscle in this vital exchange get blocked, a carotid angioplasty is the only way out.
Gaynor Borade
Last Updated: Jan 21, 2018
The human heart is as simple in its anatomy as it is complex in function. The heart muscle bears the sole responsibility of:
  • Pumping oxygenated blood received from the lungs to different parts of the body.
  • Receiving deoxygenated blood from different parts of the body and directing it to the lungs for purification.
These processes are carried out via an extensive network of blood vessels, veins, and arteries, and their branches. However, these blood vessels are exposed to the accumulation of plaque and cholesterol along the inner lining of their walls. This development takes place over an entire lifetime and adversely affects the heart function.
Reduced flow of oxygenated blood, reduced heart rhythm, and a slowed down movement of cellular waste towards the heart chambers result in life-threatening health conditions. These developments are collectively referred to as atherosclerosis. The syndrome mainly affects the arterial blood vessels, resulting in an inflammatory response. The inflammation is the result of an increased deposition of macrophage white blood cells and lipoproteins within the blood vessels. In time, the veins and arteries harden, causing atheroma or a nodular formation within the lumen of the artery and the development of cholesterol crystals and/or lesions.
What Is Angioplasty?
Angioplasty is the technique by which a surgeon widens an obstructed heart blood vessel. The procedure involves the insertion of taut balloons within the plaque filled and narrowed blood vessels. The balloons are then inflated to a predetermined size with the help of water pressure. This immediately increases the inner dimensions of the blood vessels, and subsequently, increases the flow of blood.
What Is Carotid Angioplasty?
Arteriosclerosis causes the blood vessels to lose their elasticity. The condition remains asymptomatic for decades, eventually culminating in a chronic thrombus or rapidly decreased flow of blood to and from the heart. This infarction is also referred to as coronary thrombosis and is identified as a leading cause of heart attacks, strokes, and claudication. The latter refers to a condition in which insufficient supply of blood to the legs results in incapacitation of the lower appendages.
Arteriosclerosis needs to be addressed immediately to avoid organ damage and induced immobility. This condition is addressed by the medical fraternity via a carotid angioplasty. Prior to the surgical procedure involved, a coronary angiogram is conducted to highlight the health of the left coronary circulation. Thereafter, percutaneous coronary intervention is considered.
Carotid angioplasty is a therapeutic procedure aimed at widening the narrowed coronary arteries. In this procedure, a stent and embolic capture device is used to collect the clot debris. The surgery involves the expertise of physicians, radiological technologists, and a cardiac invasive specialist. Access into the affected blood vessel is gained via an 'introducer needle'. Thereafter, the insertion of a 'sheath introducer' ensures that the artery is kept open and bleeding is controlled.
A 'guiding catheter' is placed within the coronary artery for x-ray visualization. This enables the cardiologist to estimate the size of the artery, extent of plaque or blockage, and the amount of heparin or blood thinner to be used. A coronary guidewire is used for implantation of stents, laser atherectomy, or brachytherapy. These are all procedures that address percutaneous coronary intervention. It helps in the treatment of all coronary artery diseases and even congestive heart failure.
Carotid angioplasty is an important consideration to deal with the onslaught of arteriosclerosis symptoms. However, like any other surgical procedure, the condition is not without risks. Ischemia, bruising, and hematoma sometimes delay hospital discharge. Patients have also suffered infection at the puncture site and allergic reactions to the drugs involved. Nevertheless, carotid angioplasty is the only answer to the treatment of advanced heart disease and arterial blockage.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.