• LC&VA

Coronary Angioplasty Treatment

What is a coronary angioplasty?

A coronary angioplasty, also known as percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), is a non-surgical procedure to widen a narrowed or blocked artery in the heart using a balloon and wire stent. It is one of the most common treatments for the heart and is most commonly performed on patients aged 65 or older.


Who needs a coronary angioplasty?

Patients who suffer with angina, where medication is ineffective, are candidates for coronary angioplasty treatment. Angina develops due to a restriction in the flow of blood to the heart and produces symptoms of chest pains. Coronary angioplasties are also used as an emergency treatment for patients who have suffered a heart attack.


What happens in this procedure?

The procedure takes one to two hours and is carried out under local anaesthetic and sedation. An angiogram is performed prior to the procedure to identify which arteries are blocked and the extent of the blockage. The consultant will insert a thin, flexible tube (catheter) in to one of your arteries, either in the groin, wrist or arm. The catheter is passed through the artery to the affected coronary artery using x-ray video. When the catheter is positioned correctly, a thin wire is passed down the length of the coronary artery through the catheter to the narrowed or blocked site. The thin wire delivers a small balloon which is then inflated to widen the artery. The balloon squashes any fatty deposits which caused the narrowing or blockage against the artery wall, and when the balloon is removed blood will flow more freely through the artery.

A wire mesh called a stent might be required as a permanent solution to keep the artery open. If a stent is being used it will expand when the balloon is inflated and remain in place when the balloon is removed.



Recovery

If the coronary angioplasty is carried out to treat angina, the patient should be able to go the day after receiving treatment. It is recommended to rest for one week, avoiding any strenuous activities or heavy lifting to allow the incision site to heal. You will not be able to drive for one week after this procedure. Your consultant will work with you to determine when you can get back to your usual routines. They will also give you advice in regards to medication, exercise, travel, diet and alcohol.


This article is intended to inform and give insight but not treat, diagnose or replace the advice of a doctor. Always seek medical advice with any questions regarding a medical condition.

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Photo credit Giulio Mazzarini

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