Coronary artery disease occurs when the coronary arteries become narrowed or blocked as a result of atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is the build-up of fatty deposits and plaque on the arteries' inner walls that restricts blood flow to the heart. Without adequate blood flow, the heart is starved of the oxygen and vital nutrients it needs to function properly. The most common symptom of coronary artery disease is angina or chest pain.
Angioplasty is an interventional heart procedure used to open narrowed or blocked coronary arteries that carry blood to the heart.
A coronary artery stent, which is often placed during or immediately after angioplasty, is a small, metal mesh tube that expands once inside a coronary artery. Its purpose is to prevent the artery from becoming blocked again. A drug-eluting stent is coated with medicine to help prevent the artery from closing.
Interventional cardiologists use angioplasty to treat:
- Blockage in a coronary artery during or after a heart attack
- Blockage of one or more coronary arteries that puts you at risk for a heart attack
- Persistent chest pain (angina) not controlled by medication