Can patients with diabetes undergo angioplasty?

While more studies are needed to determine if all patients with diabetes are suitable candidates for angioplasty and stenting procedures, recent research indicates that patients with carefully controlled blood sugar are good candidates.

Angioplasty is a procedure performed in a hospital by an interventional cardiologist. The procedure consists of threading a thin tube called a catheter to the site of a blockage in an artery and opening a small balloon to push the blockage in the artery aside. Over time, arteries can become blocked with a fatty substance called plaque. If an artery is blocked, blood cannot pass through the artery as it should, and depending on the location of the blockage can cause a heart attack, stroke, or other serious complications. After the balloon has reopened the artery, the interventional cardiologist then often places a metal, mesh tube called a stent in the artery to prop it open.

Unfortunately, diabetes and heart disease often go hand in hand. Therefore, diabetes patients must be screened for heart disease. Many diabetic patients may not exhibit symptoms such as chest pain or shortness of breath; however, patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus and coronary artery disease (CAD) are at high risk for cardiovascular events, including heart attack. According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes affects nearly 24 million people in the United States, more than 65 percent of whom die from heart disease or stroke.

When cardiovascular disease patients receive stents, they may be given one of two types, a bare metal one or a newer type of stent that releases a medicine to help prevent plaque from re-blocking the artery. Called drug-eluting stents, these newer stents are the standard of care for diabetic patients undergoing angioplasty and stenting.

If you have diabetes, you can have angioplasty, but complications may be higher for patients with diabetes.

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