The heart is a vital organ in the human body. It pumps blood throughout the body with the use of blood vessels known as Arteries (vessels that carry oxygenated blood from the heart to tissues of the body); but when there is a blockage in the arteries due to plaque deposits, it could shrink and become life-threatening for an individual. This case is referred to as Coronary Artery Disease. Modern medical procedure has come up with a solution for this issue and that is Coronary Angioplasty.
What is Coronary Angioplasty?
When there are plaque deposits, arteries shrink and narrow down. Even when a person grows old, his/her arteries would shrink. Hence transferring blood from the heart to the lungs is eventually blocked and leads to Coronary Artery Disease. Angioplasty is a unique surgery, which involves removing the plaque deposits in the arteries and boosts the blood flow.
When to go for Coronary Angioplasty Treatment?
Coronary Artery Disease can occur abruptly. Medication is the first treatment option suggested, but in acute cases i.e. if the blockage is severe, the patient is advised to undergo this surgery. Some patients don’t show early signs of symptoms, some of the examples of the symptoms include faster heartbeats, heartburns and pain in the chest are some of the common symptoms reported by patients who have undergone this treatment so far.
How it is done?
Local anesthesia (a medicine which numbs a particular part of the body while surgeries are performed) is given to the patient, then a flexible tube aka Catheter is inserted into one of the arteries through an incision made in the wrist or arm. A live streaming video with a X-Ray view guides the doctor to reach the clogged area. Then the balloon is filled with a liquid i.e. a Contrast Dye. It can take upto a total of 3 hours to conclude the surgery and for the tube to be positioned correctly in the place where plaque is present. In the case of Stent Angioplasty, the mesh structure stays in the artery through-out the person’s lifetime. Post the surgery, the patient has to follow a strict diet and in some cases the patient will also be required to stay back in the hospital as part of the cardiac rehabilitation programme.
Two Types of Angioplasty:
First case of Balloon Angioplasty was reported way back in 1977 in Zurich, Switzerland by Dr Andreas Gruentzig. A thin flexible tube with a balloon tip is inserted into the artery through your arms or legs with a special needle called Catheter. The catheter has a balloon at its tip that is used to expand the clog area, pushing the plaque deposits and the blood flows back in the chamber. The procedure continues until the normal blood flow is restored.
An alternative to the balloon procedure is stent angioplasty. A stent is a mesh like metal structure inserted into the narrow region of the coronary artery. Instead of the balloon, the mesh structure is inflated and placed to remove the plaque deposits. The stent will remain in the artery to stop it from further narrowing in the future. Until death, the person is required to have the stent in the artery as it’s the agent to keep the artery open.
What is the success rate?
Success rates among the majority have been 90 per cent, but in cases of myocardial infarction (i.e. blockage of blood flow to the heart muscle), the success rates vary between 70-90 per cent, according to a research work published on European Heart Journal.
Coronary angioplasty is an intensive surgery, some of the risk factors include:
- Artery collapsing when stenting is not an option
- Bleeding or damage of blood vessel while stenting
- Patient’s allergic reaction to the dye or the stent
- Medication side effects
- A blood clot inside the stent
- After 3-6 months from stent surgery, some patients have been diagnosed with scar tissue growth within the stent.
Destinations for Medical Tourists Seeking Angioplasty
In some underdeveloped or developing country, hospitals lack expertise in treating the disease. In developed countries, wait time to receive the surgery accompanied with unaffordable prices for the uninsured and the underprivileged could end the lives of some individuals who have been affected. Here are some of the destinations along with the cost that could offer you the expert treatment at an affordable cost:
Germany : A strategic location, access to all major and minor countries, cities like Frankfurt being a transit point, friendly government policies towards medical tourism and especially cutting edge medical infrastructure in all hospitals are some of the reasons that make Germany the leading destination for medical tourists. North Americans and Europeans flock to Germany to get treated for all these reasons. Eye for quality is Germany’s unique selling point. Cost of Coronary Angioplasty ranges between US$16,000-US$18,000.
Spain :The kingdom of Spain has the seventh best rank for the healthcare systems in the world, according to Guardian News and Media Limited. Nearly half a million medical professionals, 800 hospital and reasonable cost compared to North America and other European countries are some of the reasons why Spain gets the edge. Cost is around US$11,500 and US$13,500.
UAE :The Arab kingdom has been the centre of attraction for its oil reserves all these years, but the state has also managed to improve its medical infrastructures and is now a competitive medical tourism market. Their eye for quality is their USP and that has paid well so far. Cost of a Coronary Angioplasty could be around US$4,000 and US$8,500.
India :The most affordable destination for medical tourist gives India the edge. But over the years, expertise among hospitals in treating cardiac ailments effectively has paid and is drawing patients from neighbouring South East Asian, African and middle eastern countries. Cost of coronary angioplasty could be around US$4,000.
Poland :Proximity to all European countries offers the edge for Poland as an emerging destination for medical tourism in the continent. When it comes to affordability, Poland surpasses even India and can offer coronary angioplasty for less than US$5,000. The cutting edge medical infrastructure to treat patients with ease is also the USP for Poland.