Your healthcare team will talk to you
about your heart problem and explain how angioplasty can help. Angioplasty relieves
symptoms of coronary artery disease by improving blood flow to your heart. Chest pain
(angina) can be caused by poor blood flow through a narrow or blocked artery that
normally supply oxygen and nutrients to the heart muscle. Not all blockages can be
coronary angioplasty alone. You may need other treatments including medicines, surgery,
coronary stents to treat your coronary artery disease. A heart specialist called an
interventional cardiologist does the angioplasty procedure. They have specialized
in using the equipment and in doing the procedure as safely as possible.
Risks of angioplasty
All procedures have risks. Possible risks linked to angioplasty
Bleeding at the site where the catheter is put into the body
(usually the groin, wrist, or arm)
Blood clot or damage to the blood vessel from the catheter
Blood clot in the treated blood vessel
Infection at the catheter insertion site
Abnormal heart rhythms
Chest pain or discomfort
Bursting (rupture) of the coronary artery or complete closing
of the coronary artery, requiring open-heart surgery
Allergic reaction to the contrast dye used
Kidney damage from the contrast dye. Tell your healthcare
provider if you have kidney disease.
During the procedure
A member of the healthcare
team will numb the skin at the insertion site (usually the groin, wrist, or arm)
with a local anesthetic. This is so you don't feel pain when the catheter is
inserted. Next, your doctor will make a needle hole (puncture) to insert the
Your doctor will insert a
guide wire through a thin, flexible tube (the guiding catheter) and move it to the
narrow spot in your heart artery. Your doctor will use an angiogram to see the
blockage. An angiogram is an X-ray movie of blood flow through the heart arteries
using contrast dye.
Your doctor will insert a
balloon-tipped catheter through the guiding catheter and thread it over the guide
wire. They'll position it at the narrow part of the artery.
Next they'll inflate and
deflate the balloon several times to press the plaque against the artery wall. You
may feel pressure or chest pain when the balloon is inflated. Tell your doctor if
- Often, a stent is also placed in the artery. This is a small,
metal mesh tube that helps prop the sides of the blood vessel open and keeps it from
Finally, your doctor deflates
the balloon and removes the catheters and guide wire. The artery is now open, and
blood flow to the heart muscle increases.
After the procedure
You'll need to keep the
incision site still. This is to prevent bleeding. A member of the healthcare team
will tell you how long to lie down and keep the insertion site still. The amount
of time you must lie still may depend on whether a closure device such as a stitch
or collagen plug was used to close the opening that was made in your artery. The
time you must be still may be shorter if one of these devices was used. The amount
of time will also depend on if there's any bleeding at the artery site.
A nurse will check the
insertion site and your blood pressure. Before going home, you may have an
electrocardiogram (ECG) or other tests.
You may be able to go home
after several hours on the same day. Or you may spend the night in the hospital
after your procedure. Depending on your condition and the results of your
procedure, your stay may be longer.
- Plan to have someone drive you home.
- You may be started on new medicines to prevent blood clots from
forming at the site in your artery where the angioplasty was done. Make sure you take
this medicine as directed. Other medicines that are often prescribed are to prevent
re-narrowing of the arteries or to prevent a heart attack. These medicines commonly
- A cholesterol-lowering medicine (statin)
- Medicines to help prevent blood clots at the plaque site
(such as aspirin or clopidogrel)
- A medicine to take if you have chest pain (such as
- Your activity will be restricted for about 3 to 7 days while the
puncture site (groin, wrist, or arm) is healing.
- Keep the puncture site clean and dry until the skin heals in the
area. Showering is OK. But don't soak in a bathtub, hot tub, or swimming pool until
the skin has healed.
- It's normal to have a bruise or to feel a pea-sized bump under
the skin at the puncture site. This bump may be a collagen plug or stitches that were
used to close the artery. It should get smaller as time goes by. You shouldn't have
active bleeding or a growing bruise at the site.
911 if any of the following
occur: your healthcare provider if you have any of the following:
- Abnormal or lasting chest pain
- Severe pain, numbness, coldness, or a bluish color in the leg or
arm where the catheter was inserted
- You have blood in your urine; bloody, black, or tarry stools; or
any other kind of significant bleeding
When to call your healthcare provider
Call your healthcare provider if
you have any of the following:
You have chest pain that's
quickly eased with medicines
The insertion site has pain,
swelling, redness, bleeding, or drainage
- Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by your
Online Medical Reviewer: Steven Kang MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Ronald Karlin MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Stacey Wojcik MBA BSN RN
Date Last Reviewed:
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