In this video, Dr. Christopher Nielsen, an interventional cardiologist at MUSC explains the angioplasty procedure. He also discusses when a person may need an angioplasty.
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What is Angioplasty? Dr. Christopher Nielsen: If people are not doing the right things throughout their life and they build up blockages in the arteries, that are severe enough to limit the amount of blood flow so that they start having pain or pressure in the chest, those are the usual symptoms. Sometimes people will be out of breath; sometimes people will have less typical symptoms like just pain or numbness in the arms and things like that. But if they start having those symptoms, sometimes we will see them and do a stress test or other times we're able to see them and get enough from the history to realize that this probably is a blockage. At that point, we would do a heart catheterization, and a heart catheterization is where we run a small tube, just a couple of millimeters in size, run that up through the leg, through the blood vessel in the leg up to the heart and we're able to take pictures of the arteries of the heart, and see if there's any blockages there. If we see any blockages in those arteries, that's when it may be necessary to do Angioplasty which means to open the artery and an Angioplasty sometimes involves placing a stent which is a metal mesh tube that helps hold the artery open. If we find blockages in the artery like I said, that's sometimes what we will do. More severe blockages in the artery sometimes need open heart surgery or bypass surgery but Angioplasty and stent placement, nowadays has gotten so good that we've been able to keep most people from needing to have bypass surgery, although it is still a necessary treatment for some.