Coronary Angioplasty | Loyola Medicine

Coronary Angioplasty

Minimally Invasive Procedure to Increase Blood Flow in Blocked Arteries

Coronary angioplasty, also called percutaneous coronary intervention or PTCA, is the primary method by which the highly skilled cardiologists at Loyola Medicine open blood flow to a heart that is restricted by blocked or hardened arteries. Each of Loyola’s expert interventional cardiologists performs nearly 300 angioplasties a year, a volume that translates into improved outcomes for our patients. Our team is highly skilled at recognizing a patient’s need for the procedure and implementing successful treatment.
 
Angioplasty is typically done to alleviate chest pain and shortness of breath. It can also be used to open your artery quickly if you are having a heart attack, improving your prognosis and limiting long-term damage to your heart muscle.
 
In many instances, angioplasty is combined with placing a stent in your artery to help keep it open and reduce restenosis (renarrowing of the artery). Placing a bare metal or drug-eluting stent (DES) lowers heart attack risk and improves prognosis.

Why Choose Loyola for Coronary Angioplasty?

For patients who arrive at our emergency department with a blocked coronary artery, Loyola achieves a door-to-balloon time of 90 minutes for 100% of patients, and 60 minutes for 89% of patients. A quick door-to-balloon time is critical to the treatment of patients with coronary artery disease. This means that every patient needing PCI (percutaneous coronary intervention) due to a blocked artery receives this treatment within 90 minutes of entering the hospital. 

Loyola is also part of the ACTION Registry ®, a quality improvement program that focuses specifically on the treatment of patients with STEMI (ST segment elevation myocardial infarction), the deadliest form of heart attack with substantial risk of death and disability. Through participation in this program, Loyola is continually applying the most advanced care for patients with STEMI. 

The American College of Cardiology has recognized Loyola with the 2019 Platinum Performance Achievement award for providing excellent care to heart attack patients. Recipients of this award must demonstrate exceptionally high performance when providing care to heart attack patients, including angioplasties, for eight consecutive quarters, in addition to other guidelines from the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association.

What to Expect with Coronary Angioplasty

Coronary angioplasty is a minimally invasive procedure most often performed in Loyola’s cardiac catheterization lab. In order to clear your blocked coronary artery and treat heart conditions, your cardiologist will use a small needle to access an artery in your leg or arm. A thin guidewire followed by a catheter will go through your artery up to the blockage in your heart. Your doctor will use a small amount of dye, which enables clearer visualization of the plaque that is causing your blockage. 

Once in place, a small balloon that is attached to the end of the catheter is inflated in your artery. The inflation and deflation of the balloon widens and stretches your artery so your blood can flow more freely to your heart. 

If you have weak heart muscles or complications, such as diabetes or multiple blockages, surgical treatment may be a better option. Our multidisciplinary team of cardiologists, cardiovascular surgeons and other specialists will work with you to determine the best treatment plan for your specific case.

What are the Risks of Coronary Angioplasty?

Coronary angioplasty is a common procedure used to treat heart issues and is not often associated with great risk. However, as with any surgical procedure, there are associated risks which may include:

  • Blood clots
  • Discomfort and bleeding at insertion site
  • Restenosis, or re-narrowing of the artery

Less common, but more severe risks may include: