The heart is a muscle that receives oxygen through blood vessels. Sometimes blood clots can block these blood vessels and the heart can't get enough oxygen. This can cause a heart attack. The procedures called percutaneous coronary interventions (PCI) are among those that are the most effective for opening blocked blood vessels that cause heart attacks.
Why this is important:
Percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA) is one of a class of PCI, which are among the most effective ways to open blocked blood vessels and help prevent further heart muscle damage. A PCI is performed by a doctor to open the blockage and increase blood flow in blocked blood vessels. Improving blood flow to your heart as quickly as possible lessens the damage to your heart muscle. It also can increase your chances of surviving a heart attack. There are three procedures commonly described by the term PCI. These procedures all involve a catheter (a flexible tube) that is inserted, often through your leg, and guided through the blood vessels to the blockage. The three procedures are:
- Angioplasty: a balloon is inflated to open the blood vessel (PTCA).
- Stenting: a small wire tube called a stent is placed in the blood vessel to hold it open.
- Atherectomy: a blade or laser cuts through and removes the blockage.
The chart above shows the percentage of heart attack patients that were given a PCI within 90 minutes after arriving at the hospital.