Angioplasty is the most effective procedure to save lives and reduce damage to the heart muscle when patients are suffering a heart attack. Performing emergency angioplasty within 90 minutes of the onset of a heart attack has proven to minimize heart damage in 95 percent of all cases.
Primary Angioplasty [PAMI] is the angioplasty done as a life-saving emergency procedure in a patient with an on-going heart attack. Heart attacks occur due to sudden total occlusion of a pre-existing partial block, thereby completely cutting off the blood supply to a portion of a heart muscle.
These 100 per cent blockages need to be removed within 3-6 hours from the onset of heart attack; else the muscle of the heart gets damaged permanently. Doing angioplasty in a critical patient of heart attack is in itself challenging and doing so in the critical window period of this 3-6 hours further adds to the challenge. .
The only other option available for the treatment of heart attack other than the primary angioplasty is use of specific intravenous medications called “thrombolytic agents”. These agents are thrombus [clot] busting medications, and when administered in patients, dissolve the clot in 60-65 per cent of cases. The remaining 35-40 per cent of cases either die due to failed thrombolysis or even if they survive the attack, go home with a very weak heart due to a large portion of the heart muscle being permanently damaged. These patients who do survive with weak hearts go on to live with either heart failure, valve leaks and have a very morbid and unproductive life, with economical, social and psychological burden.