Angioplasty is used to widen coronary arteries that have been narrowed significantly by fatty plaques. How do you know if your arteries are narrowed or clogged? Many patients go to their doctors complaining of chest pain or other symptoms of coronary artery disease. Your doctor will review your medical history, will ask whether you have any relatives with heart disease, and will examine you. You also may need blood tests, an electrocardiogram (EKG), stress testing or echocardiography to help to determine if you should have angioplasty. If your doctor thinks your chest pain is a heart attack in progress, you will be rushed to the catheterization lab for an emergency angioplasty.
In most patients, angioplasty relieves chest pain caused by coronary artery narrowing. However, up to 40 percent of patients will require a second coronary procedure (usually a second angioplasty) within 1 year.
Angioplasty also may be used to widen a narrowed artery in a limb, most often the femoral or iliac artery to the leg.