Unstable angina is a kind of condition where your heart rarely gets very less oxygen or blood flow. This can lead to a heart attack in severe cases. Angina is a form of chest discomfort which is caused due to less blood supply through the coronary vessels (blood vessels) of the myocardium (heart muscle). Unstable angina is caused due to many factors, the most common being coronary artery disease due to a condition known as atherosclerosis. This condition is caused because of the build-up of fatty material along the artery walls. It makes the arteries less flexible and narrow. The narrowing in turn interrupts the blood flow to the heart and causes immense chest pain. Some major risk factors of unstable angina include, smoking, old age, obesity, not exercising enough, low HDL cholesterol, high LDL cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes and family history of Unstable angina.
Usually blood thinners are given to the patients to prevent Unstable angina from occurring and resulting to a heart attack. This medication includes a drug called clopidogrel or aspirin. During Unstable angina you can get herparin which is a blood thinner or nitroglycerin through IVF. Sometimes the blood vessel gets blocked or narrowed down due to unstable angina, in such cases Angioplasty is recommended to open the blood vessel. This treatment is the most common treatment to cure coronary artery disease due to unstable angina.
Angioplasty is the most effective procedure performed on people who have unstable angina which may or has already led to a heart attack. Angioplasty is also known as percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA) or percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI). It is performed using a soft and thin tube called a catheter. This catheter is inserted inside a blood vessel in the wrist or groin. The doctor then pushes and guides the catheter till it reaches the coronary arteries of the heart. The blockages or the narrowing inside the coronary arteries is then located and this is done by putting a dye in the body which contains iodine. This helps the coronary artery become visible in the X-ray screen. This procedure is known as Cardiac catherterization.
Another type of angioplasty can be performed with or without a stent. If there is blockage in the artery, the catheter is moved to the narrow artery and a small balloon is used to open the artery. This balloon is inflated for some time and then removed after being deflated. The surgeon can also use this balloon to keep a stent inside the artery so that it remains open.
Patients who experience unexplained or sudden chest pain that become unbearable and interferes with your daily activity should seek medical help and get the treatment as soon as possible. If the pain doesn’t reduce after consuming more than three doses of nitroglycerin, an angioplasty treatment is recommended. People who feel fatigue more often or feel light headed most of the times are perfect candidates for an angioplasty procedure. You should also opt for this treatment if your heart is not steady and beats really slow.
Angioplasty should not be performed on people who have no evidence of decreased blood flow to the heart or if the blood vessels are not extremely narrowed down or blocked. Blood thinner medicines should not be taken if you get a stent in your blood vessel. Those who do not have a suitable anatomy of the artery should not get angioplasty done as it may lead to complications or even death. Therefore, it is important to consult your doctor before getting this procedure.
If the angioplasty procedure is a success there are no serious side effects. However, there can be certain risks during the procedure such as an artery collapse when stenting cannot be performed, damage or bleeding to the blood vessel during insertion of the catheter or an allergic reaction to the stent or the dye. If there are a lot of complications in the arteries, stroke or heart attack can also occur. After the procedure, side effects such as fatigue or light headedness can also occur from consuming medications.
Angioplasty takes about 30 to 90 minutes to finish. However, time is needed to recover from this procedure completely. After this procedure your heart rate, blood pressure and pulse will be monitored and the site where the catheter was inserted will be checked for any signs of bleeding. After you are discharged from the hospital, you should abstain from lifting heavy objects or doing strenuous physical exercise. You should also not drive for quite some days after the procedure. Antiplatelet medicines can be given to prevent a stroke or a heart attack. After angioplasty, it is recommended to attend a cardiac rehabilitation program for building healthy habits which will aid you in the future, towards a healthy heart.
This procedure generally takes less than an hour or 2 to 3 hours depending upon the complications. However, patients who have gone through angioplasty can do their daily activities with ease in a period of 1 to 2 weeks while taking the prescribed medication.
In India, angioplasty treatment can vary from 1 lakh to 3 lakh depending upon the type of room, hospital and the stent. The cost of the surgery may go up depending upon the number of stents used.
If proper care is taken after the angioplasty procedure, the results of this treatment are usually permanent. However, medications should be consumed as per prescribed and healthy food habits should be exercised for a healthy body.
Unstable angina can have other alternative treatments other than angioplasty such as consuming blood thinners like clopidogrel or aspirin. Some medications and drugs can also be prescribed to reduce symptoms of angina such as anxiety, unhealthy cholesterol levels and unstable blood pressure levels.