Angioplasty is a procedure that is performed to help open narrowed or blocked blood vessels of the heart. Called coronary arteries, they sometimes get blocked or clogged due to high cholesterol, fat and as a result of smoking. Officially known as Percutaneous Transluminal Coronary Angioplasty, the procedure is also known as Balloon Angioplasty, PCI (Percutaneous Coronary Intervention) and Angioplasty with Vascular Stents.
Angioplasty is a non-surgical procedure that enables a catheter (on whose tip is attached with an inflatable balloon) to thread its way through blocked arteries and vessels, inflating, and thereby re-opening the blocked or clogged passages.
Anyone suffering from the following medical conditions may benefit from angioplasty, but such decisions will be made between doctor and patient. In some cases, damage or blockage may be too severe to treat with angioplasty.
Those suffering from chronic and persistent chest pain (also known as angina) may benefit from this non-surgical procedure. Individuals who have been diagnosed with one or more blocked or narrowed coronary arteries or those who display a blockage in a coronary artery either during or after a monitored heart attack may also benefit.
Common Angioplasty Procedures
Two of the most commonly performed angioplasty procedures include:
Angioplasty with vascular stents enables the physician to insert a metal device into the artery to help hold it open. Picture a metal piece of tubing or pipe that is inserted into the blocked area of the vessel. Stents are very small and made of a mesh-like, self expanding stainless steel. Stents are typically coated with drugs that may prevent the vessel from narrowing again, but in many cases, stents are not a permanent barrier against narrowed arteries.
Balloon angioplasty is commonly used for individuals with mild to moderate artery blockage. In this procedure, a thin, flexible and hollow tube fitted with a small, inflatable balloon is typically inserted into an artery in the groin and threaded upward until it meets the area of blockage. Then, the balloon is slowly inflated, opening the blocked vessel and restoring blood flow much like a plumber unclogs a kitchen pipe with a plumber's snake.
In the United States, angioplasty procedure costs will depend on type of procedure (balloon or angioplasty with vascular stents). However, general costs for such procedures range around $57,000. In some cases, medical and health insurance will help cover these costs.
However, medical travelers taking advantage of excellently trained and certified physicians in countries like India, Singapore and Thailand may enjoy huge cost savings. For example, angioplasty procedures in India generally cost around $11,000, while the same procedures cost around $13,000 in Singapore and Thailand.
A trained and certified cardiologist may perform angioplasty. "Interventional cardiologists" perform most angioplasty procedures. Cardiologists are not surgeons. Your cardiologist should be a fully trained physician certified to treat various cardiovascular problems and issues. He or she should have graduated from an approved and accredited medical school or college, have at least 2-3 years experience in providing patient care and several years of specialized cardiovascular education and experience. Make sure that the cardiologist you choose is certified and accredited in his or her country of origin.
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