Coronary Angioplasty

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Coronary angioplasty is a procedure used to open  narrow or clogged coronary ( heart ) arteries. It is also known as percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI). The procedure restores blood flow to the arteries. Coronary Angioplasty is usually accompanied by the placement of a stent to improve blood flow and prevent arteries from bursting. Angioplasty improves symptoms of a blocked artery such as shortness of breath and chest pain (angina).


Coronary angioplasty is used to treat atherosclerosis. As you age, plaque can build up in your arteries causing a condition known as atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis can affect any artery but if it affects your coronary arteries, it is referred to as coronary heart disease. The plaque can harden and narrow the arteries. This results in symptoms such as shortness of breath and chest pain.When this plaque raptures, a blood clot forms on it’s surface. This blood clot can completely block the artery and cause a heart attack.


A thin flexible tube or catheter with a balloon at the tip is threaded through the blood vessels to the affected artery. The balloon is then inflated to press against the inside wall of the arteries. This restores proper blood flow to the brain. A stent which is a wire mesh tube may be placed in the blocked area. It is left in place to help open the artery and the balloon is removed.


This less invasive procedure posses some risks. This may include

  • blood clots
  • bleeding
  • re-narrowing of artery – restenosis

Other rare complications include

  • kidney failure
  • heart attack
  • stroke
  • brain damage
  • abnormal heart rhythm


You will undergo a thorough physical exam as well as medical tests before an angioplasty. You may also undergo an imaging test known as  coronary angiogram to determine if your blocked arteries  can be treated with angioplasty.

You need to let your doctor know all medications and supplements you are taking. Instructions will be given about eating or drinking before the procedure. You may be asked not to eat or drink anything including water by midnight  the night before the procedure. Your doctor may advise you to stop taking certain medication before angioplasty especially  certain diabetes medications or blood thinners. Take medications approved by your doctor with a small sip of water.


You may stay in the hospital overnight for nurses to watch out for signs of bleeding, poor blood flow or stroke. If the procedure was done early in the day, you may go home the same day.

What Is Coronary Angioplasty? National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Accessed January 3, 2014

Angioplasty and stent placement – carotid artery. National Library of Medicine. MedlinePlus. Accessed January 3, 2014

What Is a Stent? National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Accessed January 3, 2014

Coronary angioplasty and stents. Mayo foundation. Accessed January 3, 2014

The American Heritage® Stedman’s Medical Dictionary. Retrieved January 2014 from website.

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