Coronary angioplasty

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Percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI)

A non-surgical procedure to widen a narrowed or blocked artery in the heart using a balloon and wire stent

About

Angioplasty helps improve the blood flow in your heart by widening narrowed or blocked arteries using a balloon and stent (a small wire tube). It can help to relieve angina symptoms and can also be used as an emergency treatment if you've had a heart attack.

Need to know

  • What happens icon plus

    The procedure usually takes one to two hours. You’ll be given local anaesthetic to numb your groin or wrist, and sedation to make you sleepy.

    Your consultant will insert a small, flexible tube into an artery in the top of your leg or on your wrist. They will guide a smaller tube (catheter) which has a small deflated balloon on the tip. X-ray will be used to guide the balloon into place. Your consultant will inflate the balloon to open the artery. A wire mesh called a stent may be used to keep the artery open. It expands at the same time as the balloon and will be left in place when the balloon and catheter are removed.

  • How to prepare icon plus

    Your consultant will let you know what to expect before, during and after your angioplasty.

    You’ll be able to ask any questions you might have about the procedure. You will be told not to eat or drink anything for a few hours before having an angioplasty. Like all procedures, there may be some risks and side effects involved. Your consultant will explain these to you.

  • Afterwards icon plus

    We’ll care for you in hospital overnight but you should be able to go home the next day. Please arrange for someone to travel home with you. You should rest for a week after the procedure to allow your wrist or the top of your leg to heal. You won’t be able to drive during this time.

    Your consultant will discuss the procedure with you, and let you know when you can get back to your usual routines and activities. They’ll also give you advice on medication, exercise, travel, diet and alcohol.

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

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