Coronary angioplasty is a procedure to re-open a narrowed heart artery by inflating a tiny balloon in the narrowed segments.
A successful angioplasty brings relief from angina and can make a heart attack less likely.
Often an angioplasty procedure includes insertion of a small mesh tube called a stent. The stent helps ensure the artery remains open.
What happens during coronary angioplasty?
Coronary angioplasty can take 30 minutes up to several hours depending on the amount of narrowing you have. Your consultant may offer you a sedative to help you relax.
A sheath (a short, soft plastic tube used to access your artery) is usually inserted in your femoral artery near your groin or radial artery near your wrist. Local anaesthetic may be used on the insertion area.
Your consultant will pass a catheter along the artery to your heart. Using x-ray guidance and contrast dye they will pass a small tube with a tiny inflatable balloon at the end down the catheter and across the narrowed part of the artery. They will then inflate the balloon to widen the artery. They will also expand a stent inside the artery to hold it open. The balloon is then deflated and withdrawn. They may leave the stent to hold the artery open.
After your procedure you will need to remain in bed for several hours. Our healthcare team will monitor your recovery. Be sure and let us know if you are in any pain.
Going home after coronary angioplasty
You may be able to go home the day of your procedure. In some cases an overnight stay may be required. You will not be allowed to drive until your consultant releases you to do so. Please arrange for someone to take you home.
You should avoid any strenuous activity or heavy lifting until your consultant releases you. Continue taking any high blood pressure or cholesterol medications as prescribed.
Bruising around the insertion area is normal. Contact us if you experience any increase in pain, redness, swelling or discharge from this area.
Be sure and discuss any return to work with your consultant.
As with any procedure there could be complications:
Specific complications of coronary angioplasty may include:
- Reaction to contrast dye
- Change in heart rhythm
- Re-narrowing of your artery
- Heart attack or stroke (rare).
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Mike is no stranger to angiograms. He's back for a second one, after the symptoms of his angina mysteriously returned following six months of relief. Dr Suneel Talwar, Consultant Interventional Cardiologist at Nuffield Health Bournemouth Hospital, takes a look inside.