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The blood vessels of the heart can get narrowed or blocked due to the build-up of fatty substances in the wall of the blood vessel. These blockages are called as plaques.
Angioplasty is a medical procedure which opens up blood vessels which are narrowed or blocked.
A stent is a tiny expandible metal tube that fits inside a blood vessel once the blood vessel has been widened by angioplasty. It is left in the blood vessel to keep the arteries from closing up again.
- During angioplasty, a catheter (small flexible tube) is inserted in the blood vessel of the thigh or the arm and is guided towards the blocked blood vessel of the heart. At its tip, the catheter has a balloon covered with a collapsed stent over it.
- The balloon is then inflated so that the blockage is flattened and the blood vessel is opened up. Along with the expansion of the balloon, the stent expands and fits on the inside of the blood vessel.
- The balloon is then deflated and removed, leaving the stent in place, thereby keeping the blood vessel open and restoring the blood flow to the heart.