Glossary: Angioplasty

Here are definitions of medical terms related to angioplasty.

Angina: Temporary chest pain or feeling of pressure that occurs because the heart is not getting enough oxygen due to the diminished blood flow to the heart. There are two types: stable and unstable.

Angioplasty: A procedure in which a physician threads a catheter through blood vessels and uses a balloon or other device attached to the tip of the catheter to widen the arteries that have been narrowed by artery disease.

Atherosclerosis: A disease of arteries, including the arteries of the heart in which the inner layers of the artery walls become thick and irregular due to deposits of fat, cholesterol, and other substances.

Balloon Angioplasty: A procedure in which a balloon-tipped catheter is used to widen a narrowed artery.

Catheter: A thin tube that is threaded through the blood vessels.

Cholesterol: A fat-like material that is eaten as part of meat and other animal products, and is also made by the human body. Cholesterol has several beneficial uses in the body, but it can also be harmful when it builds up in the walls of arteries and causes them to narrow.

Coronary angiography: An x-ray procedure in which a catheter is threaded through the blood vessels leading to the heart and special x-ray dye is injected. It enabling the cardiologist to see whether the arteries in the heart are narrowed or blocked by plaque build-up or a blood clot and how severe the problem is.

Coronary arteries: The arteries that provide blood to the heart muscle. The most important of the arteries supplying blood to the heart are the left main, left circumflex, left anterior descending, and right coronary arteries.

Coronary artery bypass surgery: Also known as coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG-pronounced CABBAGE), this surgery involves taking a portion of a blood vessel from another part of the body, usually the leg or chest, and surgically attaching it across a severely narrowed or blocked coronary artery, thus ‘bypassing’ the blockage to improve blood supply to the heart muscle.

Coronary artery disease: The narrowing of the coronary arteries of the heart caused by deposits of cholesterol, fat, and other substances that form plaque.

Coronary atherectomy: Removing the blockage within the coronary artery, by using a cutting device to shave, cut, or drill through the blockage in the artery in order to widen it.

Interventional cardiology: A subspecialty of cardiology that uses catheters and other devices to restore blood flow to the heart without the need for major surgery.

Laser angioplasty: A procedure in which a laser-tipped catheter is used to widen a blocked artery.

Plaque: The deposits of fat, cholesterol, and other substances within the walls of an artery causing the artery to become narrowed.

Restenosis: The gradual reclosing of an artery after it has been widened.

Revascularization Procedure: A broad term that describes any procedure that is used to restore blood flow to the heart.

Stent: A small, metal or plastic device inserted by a catheter into a narrowed artery wall and then left in place, to help keep the artery open.

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