- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
Angioplasty Surgery, Recovery and Lifestyle Changes
Angioplasty is a surgical procedure that is carried out to clear blockages or the possibility of blockages from veins or arteries. Blockages can occur because fatty deposits including cholesterol or other 'plaque' can build up on the inside walls of a blood vessel. If left untreated, this can result in a heart attack, stroke or other life-threatening medical condition. Because of this, angioplasty is often required very urgently.
Fortunately, angioplasty is a relatively straightforward procedure; in this article we look what it involves, recovery from the surgery and longer-term lifestyle changes to reduce a patient's risk factors. We'll explore:
- How angioplasty surgery is performed
- Recovering from angioplasty surgery
- Longer term lifestyle changes
How angioplasty surgery is performed
Surgery is carried out as follows:
- An incision is made in a patient's body.
- A very thin tube with a deflated 'balloon' on the end of it is inserted into the affected vein or artery.
- The surgeon locates the area where there is a thickening of the artery walls, normally via a camera.
- The balloon is inserted into this area, between the walls of the blood vessel.
- Water is forced into the balloon, inflating it.
- The pressure of the balloon on the fatty deposits compresses them against the sides of the blood vessel, making it easier for blood to flow.
- The balloon is deflated and removed.
- Optionally, a 'stent' may be inserted into the vein or artery; this can be used if there is a risk of future collapse or blockage of the affected site.
- The incision is sutured.
Recovering from angioplasty surgery
- Following the operation, a patient will be moved to a specialist medical care unit where they can be observed. They will probably need to stay there a few hours or overnight and will need to lay still to give the blood vessel time to heal properly.
- After another few hours, the patient will be allowed to move around slowly and assuming that there are no further complications will be discharged from the hospital.
- A patient will receive a list of instructions from their doctor on what they need to do when they get home. This will include information on appropriate exercises, medication, looking for signs of infection and when to follow-up with a doctor.
- Recovery times do vary from person to person. Most patients will make a fairly rapid recovery and will be able to return to light work within around a week of leaving hospital.
- Most patients will make a full recovery within around two to four weeks of the operation.
Longer term lifestyle changes
Patients should also make longer term lifestyle changes to reduce the risk of future fat building up in their veins or arteries; such lifestyle changes can include:
- Exercising regularly.
- Maintaining a healthy weight.
- Eating a balanced, nutritious diet.
- Avoiding foods that are high in fat or overly processed.
- Regularly monitoring cholesterol levels and blood pressure.
- Keeping blood pressure and cholesterol levels down.
- Not smoking.
These lifestyle changes can significantly reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and will promote a longer and healthier life.
What is angioplasty?
Have you had angioplasty surgery?
Although angioplasty is often an emergency medical treatment, patients should make a full and rapid recovery following the procedure. Combining recovery from the surgery with changes to lifestyle will help to ensure that patients can continue to enjoy their lives.