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Coronary Angioplasty: Navigating the Path to Heart Health


The human heart, a miraculous organ, pumps tirelessly, supplying oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. But like any intricate machinery, it sometimes needs a little maintenance. When the arteries that supply the heart muscle become clogged or narrowed due to a condition called coronary artery disease (CAD), the heart's health is at risk. This is where coronary angioplasty, a life-saving medical procedure, comes into play. Understanding Coronary Angioplasty Coronary angioplasty, also known as percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), is a minimally invasive procedure designed to alleviate blockages in the coronary arteries, the blood vessels that supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart. These blockages are often the result of the accumulation of fatty deposits called plaque, leading to a condition known as atherosclerosis. During coronary angioplasty, a cardiologist inserts a thin, flexible catheter with a deflated balloon at its tip into the affected artery, usually through the groin or wrist. Once the catheter is in place, the balloon is inflated, compressing the plaque against the artery's walls, thereby widening the vessel's diameter and restoring blood flow to the heart. The Role of Stents In many cases, coronary angioplasty is complemented by the placement of a stent. A stent is a small, mesh-like tube made of metal or fabric. It is inserted into the artery during the angioplasty procedure and remains in place permanently. Stents provide structural support to the artery, preventing it from re-narrowing after the balloon is deflated and removed. Stents can be bare metal or coated with medication (drug-eluting stents) to reduce the risk of reblockage. The Procedure Preparation: Before the procedure, the patient is typically given a mild sedative to help them relax. The surgical team thoroughly cleans and sterilizes the access site, which is often in the groin or wrist. Local Anesthesia: Local anesthesia is applied to numb the access area, reducing discomfort during the procedure. Catheter Insertion: A catheter is inserted through the access site and carefully guided through the arterial system to reach the coronary arteries. Angiography: A contrast dye is injected through the catheter to make the coronary arteries visible on an X-ray monitor. This allows the cardiologist to identify the location and severity of blockages. Balloon Inflation: The balloon at the catheter's tip is inflated to compress the plaque against the artery walls, effectively widening the artery. Stent Placement: If necessary, a stent is placed in the treated area to maintain the artery's patency. Drug-eluting stents release medication over time to prevent reblockage. Balloon Deflation and Removal: The balloon is deflated, and the catheter is carefully withdrawn. Post-Procedure Observation: After the procedure, patients are monitored to ensure there are no complications. They may need to stay in the hospital for a short period or can often return home the same day. Benefits of Coronary Angioplasty Swift Recovery: Coronary angioplasty is a minimally invasive procedure, resulting in a faster recovery time compared to traditional open-heart surgery. Improved Blood Flow: By opening narrowed or blocked arteries, angioplasty enhances blood flow to the heart muscle, reducing the risk of a heart attack. Symptom Relief: Patients often experience immediate relief from symptoms like chest pain (angina) and shortness of breath. Enhanced Quality of Life: Restoring normal blood flow to the heart can significantly improve a patient's overall quality of life. Risks and Complications While coronary angioplasty is generally considered safe and effective, there are potential risks and complications, including bleeding or infection at the access site, blood vessel damage, or an allergic reaction to the contrast dye. In rare cases, the procedure may lead to a heart attack, stroke, or the need for emergency bypass surgery. Recovery and Follow-Up After coronary angioplasty, patients are advised to make heart-healthy lifestyle changes, including dietary modifications, regular exercise, and medication adherence. Follow-up appointments with a cardiologist are essential to monitor the stent's function and overall heart health. Final Thoughts Coronary angioplasty is a remarkable medical procedure that has saved countless lives by restoring blood flow to the heart and alleviating the symptoms of CAD. It exemplifies the advancements in modern medicine, providing a minimally invasive solution to a condition that was once treated primarily through open-heart surgery. As technology and medical knowledge continue to progress, coronary angioplasty remains a beacon of hope for those dealing with coronary artery disease, promising a brighter and healthier future for their hearts and their lives. For more information, visit our Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery page. *Image by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

Robotic angioplasty at Pasteur Clinic in Toulouse


The Pasteur Clinic has achieved a 1st in Europe   The Pasteur Clinic of Toulouse announces having achieved a European first in the field of cardiology thanks to the robotic pathway. Dr. Jean Fajadet thus performed the first coronary angioplasty in Europe under the assistance of a robot.   In the case of narrowing or occlusion of the arteries, created by deposits of atheromatous plaques, the cardiologist may recommend coronary angioplasty. This procedure consists of positioning a small balloon in the artery at the level of the narrowing or occlusion and inflating it to dilate the stenosis and crush the atheromatous plaque and thus obtain a normal flow in the coronary artery. In general, the following is stent placement, a mini-spring, which prevents the artery to reseal. The Pasteur Clinic has been performing this intervention for more than 30 years in interventional cardiology, percutaneously under local anesthesia.     With the acquisition of the robot (CorPath GRX System® Corindus®), the cardiologist can perform his act via joysticks. The robot is guided from a control room. It allows a great precision of the gesture and the absence of X-ray exposure for the personnel.   The Pasteur Clinic has also invested in a 4th generation da Vinci xi surgical robot for several specialties (urology, gynecology, digestive, thoracic surgery, etc.).   Source: La Depeche 

New test can instantly detect heart attacks


A sudden chest pain often leads to people fearing the worst, which is why many, quite rightly, seek medical help right away. But two-thirds of the time, patients with chest pains will not actually have experienced a heart attack. Nevertheless, these patients still need to be assessed and given the all-clear before being sent home. Then there are the patients who have actually had a heart attack. While a heart trace, called an ECG, can quickly identify major heart attacks, it is not that good at highlighting smaller ones, which can also be life-threatening. At present, patients with a clear ECG and chest pain are then given a heart-attack blood test, called troponin. However, this needs to be repeated three hours later to check for signs of heart muscle damage. Now, a new instant blood test could change the way suspected heart attack patients are treated. The cMyC test can rule out or confirm a heart attack in less than 20 minutes, meaning well patients can be sent home quicker, while heart attack victims can get the treatment they need faster. Troponin and cMyC blood tests were carried out on nearly 2,000 people admitted to hospitals in Switzerland, Italy and Spain with acute chest pain. The cMyC test was found to be better at giving patients the all-clear within the first three hours of presenting with chest pain. According a team from King's College London, the cMyC test could be rolled out on the NHS within five years. Dr Tom Kaier, one of the lead researchers at St Thomas' Hospital, London, said: "Our research shows that the new test has the potential to reassure many thousands more patients with a single test, improving their experience and freeing up valuable hospital beds in A&E departments and wards across the country." [Related reading: What is Coronary Angioplasty?]

What is Coronary Angioplasty?


Coronary arteries are the main blood vessels that supply the heart. Sometimes, these arteries can become narrowed or blocked, which can lead to the flow of blood to the heart becoming restricted. A coronary angioplasty is a surgical procedure used to widen blocked or narrowed coronary arteries. You may be surprised to learn that it is carried out using local anaesthetic and did you know that it involves a tiny balloon? The surgeon makes a tiny incision in your groin, arm or wrist and inserts a catheter. This is then guided to your affected coronary artery using an X-ray video. A tiny balloon is then inserted into the artery via the catheter. The balloon is then inflated to squash any fatty deposits against the wall of the artery widening it once more. This allows blood to flow freely again after the balloon is removed. A stent is sometimes also added and enters the artery at the same time as the balloon. It remains in place after the balloon has been deflated and removed to ensure the artery remains in the best possible shape to allow blood to flow freely going forward. The entire procedure only takes around 30 minutes to two hours and most patients are allowed to go home after just one or two days.