Medical Q&As

Angioplasty - eliminate plaque?

After angioplasty does plaque stay attached indefinitely to the arterial wall or does it gradually dissipate with exercise?

Most of the angioplasties that are performed today also involve the insertion of a tiny metal tube called a stent. The stent is mounted on the angioplasty balloon and is threaded through the coronary arteries until the narrowed portion of the blood vessel is reached. When the balloon is inflated the stent is dilated. The angioplasty balloon is then deflated leaving the stent in place. Several weeks after the insertion of the stent, the endothelium or lining membrane of the diseased artery grows over the metal surface of the stent. The original plaque that gave rise to the narrowing is still in place but it no longer reduces the lining of the artery due to the presence of the stent. The cholesterol-laden plaques in the coronary arteries do not dissipate with exercise. Diet and cholesterol lowering drugs help to prevent plaque formation but they do not eliminate plaque that has already formed.