Most people who die from a heart attack do so within an hour after the onset of the first symptoms. That's why, when chest pain strikes, it is crucial to seek medical help immediately. Thanks to modern medical technology, it is possible not only to survive a heart attack, but to live a healthy, productive life thereafter.
RWJ Hamilton's cardiac care team, which is staffed with some of the state's finest cardiologists, cardiac nurses and highly trained medical professionals, is proud to provide the community with this type of non-invasive interventional procedure.
Percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA) or emergent angioplasty is a procedure that is used to open a clogged or blocked artery that is causing chest pain or cardiac distress. This procedure is designed to increase the flow of blood and oxygen through a clogged heart artery without surgery. A physician uses an instrument called a catheter, which is inserted through a small incision made in the groin area and guided into the femoral blood vessel (the artery extending from the heart, down to the leg). A dye is injected into the artery and x-rays are taken to locate the source of the blockage.
Once the blockage is located, a second catheter equipped with a tiny balloon is inserted into the artery. When this catheter reaches the blockage, the balloon is inflated to open the artery. The procedure is repeated several times, allowing the balloon to widen the opening and reduce the depth of the blockage.
Finally, the physician inserts a stent into the artery. The stent resembles a tiny metal slinky. Once inserted, it too is expanded to keep the artery from preventing the flow of blood. The stent will remain in the artery.
This procedure, in most cases, requires only a local anesthesia.
In many cases, this procedure will be successful and there will be no need for invasive heart surgery. The patient is instructed to schedule regular checkups and alter many aspects of his or her diet and begin or increase a regular exercise routine.