Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI)

A percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) is a minimally invasive, non-surgical procedure. It is a treatment used to widen blocked arteries and reduce your risk of heart complications. If you think a PCI might help to improve your symptoms, you can make an appointment with one of our cardiac specialists. 

Enquiries & Appointments

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At HCA UK, we can confirm your consultation within 24 hours and you can rest assured we are:

  • Hugely experienced, performing more than 500 PCI procedures every year
  • Trusted, with 99% of cardiac patients happy to recommend us to friends and family
  • Ranked number one in the UK for private cardiac care

What is a percutaneous coronary intervention?

You may see a percutaneous coronary intervention being referred to as a coronary angioplasty or a percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA). They are non-surgical treatments to widen arteries that have become narrow or blocked by plaque. When this fatty substance builds up in the arteries, the condition is known as atherosclerosis.

During PCI treatment, a catheter is inserted into the wrist or groin. A small balloon is inflated to widen the artery before a stent is inserted to keep the artery open and improve the blood supply to your heart. You can find more details on the PCI procedure steps further down this page.

What’s the difference between a PCI and a PTCA?

A PCI is a type of coronary angioplasty. The procedures are very similar but, during a PCI, a stent is always inserted. This is not the case with every coronary angioplasty. It’s worth remembering that not all coronary artery diseases require a PCI or a PTCA. The decision to go ahead is one that takes careful consideration and the treatment we recommend will be based on what’s best for you and your individual circumstances. When you contact us, your interventional cardiologist will be able to discuss all of the options with you. 

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Signs you may need a PCI heart procedure

If plaque builds up in your arteries, it can cause the following symptoms:

  • Chest pain, known as angina: This is the most common symptom of coronary artery disease. Angina can feel like a squeezing, pressure, or burning sensation in the chest. It can be brought on by exertion and usually goes away with rest. The feeling may also radiate to the arm, jaw, shoulder or back.
  • Shortness of breath: This can occur with or without chest pain, especially during exertion.
  • Fatigue: Feeling unusually tired can be a sign of reduced blood flow to the heart. 
  • Sweating: Cold sweats can sometimes accompany chest pain.
  • Fainting (syncope)
  • Pain in the legs

In serious cases, atherosclerosis can lead to a heart attack. In those instances, a PCI procedure may be used as an emergency treatment.

If you are suffering from any of the symptoms mentioned above and you want to get checked out, HCA UK is here to provide expert care. We can offer private consultations and GP appointments confirmed within 24 hours, and we'll have your test results within two working days. Your consultant will then be able to advise if they think a percutaneous coronary intervention is going to be the most effective treatment for you and your condition.

Why choose HCA UK

You're in the best hands for private PCI procedures with HCA UK

We’re the private leader in PCI care, and more patients trust us than any other provider. Our wealth of experience, industry-leading facilities and outstanding service means you’ll benefit from the safest and most innovative approaches.

  • Vast experience: In the last three years we've carried out more than 1,500 PCI procedures.
  • Experts in our field: Your PCI procedure will be carried out by an interventional cardiologist – just one of many members of the multidisciplinary team (MDT) that will oversee your heart care and treatment.
  • World-class facilities: Our private hospitals, clinics and testing centres offer access to industry-leading cardiac professionals, technologies and treatments.
  • Trusted: 99% of our cardiac patients would recommend us to friends and family.
  • Rapid access: We'll confirm your appointment within 24 hours and can provide test results within two working days.

What can happen if your arteries become blocked?

Plaque is a thick, fatty substance that can build up and harden in your arteries, affecting the blood supply to and from your heart. If this goes undiagnosed or untreated, it can increase your risk of a heart attack and cardiovascular diseases such as heart failure and arrhythmia

Our cardiac tests and advancing imaging will show whether your arteries are blocked and, if so, to what extent. We'll have those results within 48 hours and we may be able to treat your condition via medication as an alternative to a PCI procedure.

FAQs about PCI heart treatment

A percutaneous coronary intervention usually takes between one to two hours, although sometimes it can take longer. The typical PCI procedure steps are as follows:

  • You will be given a local anaesthetic to numb your groin or wrist. You may also be given a sedative to help you relax.
  • A small tube will be inserted into your artery. A catheter will then be placed inside that tube.
  • The catheter will have a small deflated balloon attached to it. This is guided into place using an X-ray.
  • The balloon will be inflated, which will open your artery.
  • A stent, made of wire mesh, will be inserted to keep the artery open.
  • The balloon and catheter are then removed, leaving the stent in position.

We also offer complex PCIs. These tend to take a little longer than the standard PCI procedures and are usually used to treat multiple arteries or those that are severely blocked. We may also use additional techniques such as intravascular imaging or calcium modification to ensure your arteries are working as efficiently as possible.
Before your PCI treatment, your consultant will answer any questions you may have. Our cardiac specialists are experts in their field, with years of experience to help put your mind at ease.

Every person we treat is unique, and the benefits to you will depend on your condition and general health. But generally speaking, having PCI treatment can help to:

  • Relieve chest pain
  • Reduce feelings of breathlessness
  • Reduce fatigue
  • Give you more energy
  • Reduce your risk of a heart attack

As with any medical procedure, a PCI can come with a risk of complications. These include:

  • Bleeding or bruising around the area where the catheter is inserted
  • Infection around the area
  • Blood clots, which can form within stents

Major complications are extremely rare but can include:

  • Heart attack or stroke during or after the procedure
  • Damage to the coronary artery during the procedure
  •  Allergic reactions

Before your percutaneous coronary intervention, you will have time to ask your consultant any questions you may have about the potential risks involved. We conduct more than 500 of these procedures every year and we're ranked number one in the UK for private cardiac care, so you're in safe hands.

You will likely be asked to avoid eating or drinking anything for a few hours before your PCI. In the lead-up to the procedure, it's important to stay active, eat a healthy diet and continue to take any medication you are on. Most patients who have private PCI treatment with us stay overnight afterwards, so you may need to organise time off work and arrange for someone to take you to and from the hospital.
A percutaneous coronary intervention can be done under a general anaesthetic, which means you will be put to sleep for the procedure using inhaled gas or intravenous medicine. Alternatively, you may be given a local anaesthetic. This will numb the area where the catheter will be inserted - either in your groin or wrist. You may also be given a sedative to help you relax.

After your PCI, you may be able to go home the same day. But if you do stay overnight, you'll be well looked after in one of our world-class, comfortable facilities. You should then be able to return home the next day but you will not be able to drive for roughly one week so you'll need to arrange for someone to help with your transport.

It's normal to have a bit of bruising or soreness where the catheter was inserted, but please contact us if that gets worse, starts to swell or if you get a temperature. After a few days, you should start to feel back to normal and we may prescribe some medication to help with your recovery. These could include aspirin to reduce the risk of blood clots and statins to lower your cholesterol.

Your PCI procedure should improve the blood supply to your heart, thus relieving your symptoms. In some cases, your arteries can get narrower again, a condition known as restenosis. But the risk of this is lowering all the time, thanks to improvements in the stent technology that is available to us. We find that many people who have PCI treatment are largely symptom-free as a result.

There are a few general lifestyle changes you can make that may help to reduce the risk of plaque building up in your arteries. These include:

  • Being physically active on a regular basis
  • Eating a healthy diet and reducing fatty foods such as butter, hard cheese and biscuits
  • Giving up smoking
  • Reducing your alcohol intake and cutting out binge-drinking

Your consultant will always recommend the most suitable and effective treatment for you and your condition. If they don't believe a percutaneous coronary intervention is the best course of action, they will discuss other options with you. These will depend on the nature of your condition but could include:

  • Changes to your lifestyle, such as those mentioned above
  • Prescribed medication to relieve your symptoms
  • A heart bypass or coronary artery bypass graft (CABG), where a blood vessel is taken from elsewhere in your body and used to bypass your blocked artery   
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How much does PCI treatment cost?

The cost of your PCI procedure will vary depending on a number of factors. Your consultant and their medical secretary will explain all of these to you so that you know exactly what to expect. And you can pay for your treatment in a few different ways. You may be government or corporate-sponsored, or you can self-fund your treatment. If you have medical insurance, it's worth speaking to your provider to see if a PCI would be covered under your policy. You can name HCA UK as your preferred provider if you wish to receive treatment from the UK’s #1 provider of cardiac care. 

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Experts in PCI heart treatment

When you choose HCA, you'll be looked after by a multidisciplinary team of professionals who specialise in the field of cardiac treatment. They'll come together to discuss your care and work out the most suitable option for you.

Across our network, we have dozens of industry-leading cardiologists who can help every step of the way from initial consultation to your PCI procedure and your subsequent recovery and follow-ups.

Our Coronary angioplasty locations

The Harley Street Clinic

The Harley Street Clinic

35 Weymouth Street W1G 8BJ London
London Bridge Hospital

London Bridge Hospital

27 Tooley Street SE1 2PR London
The Wellington Hospital

The Wellington Hospital

8A Wellington Place NW8 9LE London
How to book an appointment

Book your appointment with HCA UK

If you are worried about symptoms such as chest pain and breathlessness or you just want to get checked out, you can request an appointment with HCA UK. The date and time will be confirmed within 24 hours. Following initial checks, your consultant will be able to advise if a percutaneous coronary intervention is required and if it is going to be the most effective form of treatment.

Coronary angioplasty Consultants

Dr Oliver Guttmann

Dr Oliver Guttmann


Professor Neil Ruparelia

Professor Neil Ruparelia


Dr Sam Firoozi

Dr Sam Firoozi


Dr Rodney Foale

Dr Rodney Foale


This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.