Angioplasty is a minimally-invasive surgical procedure performed to restore the optimum blood flow to the heart by removing the blockage from the artery, widening the artery for smooth flow, and ensuring optimal heart health. A blocked or narrowed artery can cause a heart attack and hence, this procedure is performed to restore the proper supply of blood and oxygen to the heart.
Also commonly known as balloon angioplasty, coronary angioplasty is the most widely opted for a course of treatment to avoid major surgery. In coronary angioplasty, the doctor again inserts a thin, fine tube called a catheter mounted with a tiny balloon into the blocked artery through an incision in the arm or groin. Once the catheter is in the right spot, the tiny balloon is inflated to remove the blockage from the artery and clear the passage to allow blood flow by pushing the plaque build-up to the walls of the artery.
Post angioplasty, once the blood supply is regulated the balloon is deflated and removed from the body. After this, sometimes the doctors’ place a stainless steel mesh is known as a stent in the heart to ensure the arteries do not clog again. Some stents are also medically coated to avoid narrowing of the arteries in future. These stents are placed on top of the balloon on the catheter, such as that upon the opening of the balloon, the stent opens up and reinforces the walls of the artery.
Both angioplasty and stent placement are very critical surgical procedures, which need utmost after-care and management. Post the procedure, the recovery period would be long and one must let the body regain strength slowly and steadily. Make steady improvements each day but never pressurise the heart in any condition. Consult the doctor about the involvement in physical activities.
To ensure the heart is healthy and functioning properly after the procedures, one must make certain strict lifestyle amendments and modifications, such as:
No Smoking: Life after an angioplasty and stent placement will strictly involve any smoking. Smoking damages the lining of the arteries causing fat to build up, which ultimately leads to narrowing of the artery and hampering of the flow of blood in the body. Not just smokers but even non-smokers are highly subject to developing heart diseases due to prolonged exposure to smoke.
Regular Medications: Once the angioplasty and stent placement is done, the doctor will advise certain medications to enhance the recovery of the heart and regain its strength. It is very critical to ensure that no dosages of the medicines are missed. These medications could include blood thinners (to restore blood flow), thrombolytics (to dissolve clots), nitroglycerin (to widen blood vessels), antiplatelet (to prevent new clots), and pain killers (to cub the pain). During the intake of these medicines, the body might experience a few negligible changes such as sensitivity to bruise easily, longer bleeding from clots, etc.
Healthy Diet: After angioplasty and stent placement, there need to be some strict changes in the diet. Unhealthy foods that are high on cholesterol, sodium, trans fat, saturated fat, etc. should be avoided. Instead, foods such as green leafy vegetables, fish, whole grains, seeds, low-fat dairy, dry-fruits, fibre, etc. should be consumed and fit into the regular diet. Also, the diet should be full of nutrition.
Easy Physical Activity: One of the major causes of a heart problem is physical inactivity; hence, once the heart problem is cured via angioplasty and stent placement, the physical activity needs to improve. However, no strenuous workouts should be undertaken; only low-to-moderate physical activities such as walk should be assumed. Remember to not lift anything heavier than 10 pounds up until six weeks of angioplasty and stent placement. One can also resume sexual activity post consultation with the doctor and depending on the situation.
Lowering Stress: Once done with angioplasty and stent placement, one could practise yoga, meditation or increase involvement in hobbies to reduce overall stress and maintain heart health. It is necessary to manage stress after angioplasty and stent placement because stress is also another factor responsible for a heart problem. Stress increases heart rate and also shuffles the blood pressure, causing a lot of damage to the arteries.
Healthy Weight: Post thesurgical procedures, management of weight become very critical to maintaining a healthy heart. Obesity is one of the major reasons for cardiac arrest and needs to be completely sorted. Soft workouts each day, healthy eating, controlled calories intake, nutritional food should be adapted to maintain a healthy weight.
Limited Alcohol Intake: Life after angioplasty and stent placement will not allow excessive alcohol. Strict limitations need to be put upon the quantity of alcohol consumed. Excessive alcohol consumption increases the chances of high blood pressure, cardiomyopathy, stroke, irregular heartbeats, etc. Too much alcohol is also a contributor to obesity, alcoholism and more. All of which could trigger the heart problem again.
Follow-up tests: Another very important factor that needs to be followed strictly after angioplasty and stent placement is to have regular check-ups to keep an eye on blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels, etc.
Overall, life after angioplasty and stent placement is not gloomy. It is another chance at life and one that needs attentive care and strict modifications in lifestyle.