Updated on October 20, 2020
Coronary angioplasty also known as percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), is a procedure to treat blocked heart coronary arteries. Angioplasty uses a tiny balloon catheter that is inserted in blocked blood vessels to help widen them and improve blood flow to your heart. It is usually combined with the insertion of a wire mesh called a stent to slow down and prevent future narrowing.
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Indications for angioplasties
- To improve symptoms of blocked arteries such as shortness of breath which cannot be helped with medications
- To treat chest pain (known as angina) which is getting worse
- To treat an impending or recent heart attack to quickly reopen a completely blocked artery to reduce the amount of damage to the heart muscle
What to expect from your angioplasty?
Before a scheduled angioplasty, you may need to have some tests such as blood tests, stress test, ECG and echocardiogram. Usually an imaging test called a coronary angiogram to find the location and extent of the coronary artery blockages will be done before proceeding with the angioplasty.
How to prepare for your angioplasty?
- Tell your doctor all the medications you are taking, including herbal supplements or vitamins
- Your doctor may advise you to adjust or stop taking certain medications before angioplasty (such as aspirin, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or blood thinners)
- You need to fast (stop eating or drinking) around 4-6 hours before the angioplasty
- You should get someone to take you home and try to avoid driving for a few days
- Drink plenty of fluids to flush (to flush out the angiogram contrast dye) and avoid strenuous exercise of heavy lifting for the first few days
Click to watch Video on Angioplasty by Fortis Healthcare
Risks of angioplasty
As with any medical procedure, there is always a small element of risk. These include;
- Heart attack or abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmias)
- Coronary artery tear or cardiac tamponade
- Stroke or transient ischemic attack of the brain
- Bleeding at the site of the catheter entry point (either arm or leg)
- Kidney issues
- Blood clot within the stent
- Re-narrowing of the coronary artery
How to live after angioplasty
Angioplasty gives you a second chance to a more healthy life. You have to change your current way of living and adopt a more healthy lifestyle to prevent the blockage to recur in the future. Even after your angioplasty, you MUST continue to keep your heart healthy. You should:
- Stop smoking (if you smoke)
- Eat a healthy diet that is low in saturated fat and salt (link to this article https://blog.teleme.co/2018/09/14/diet-for-hypertension/)
- Maintain a healthy weight and BMI (link to this article https://blog.teleme.co/2018/08/17/let-nutrition-determine-the-way-your-age/)
- Aim to control other health issues (such as diabetes, cholesterol or hypertension) (link hypertension to https://blog.teleme.co/2018/09/14/what-is-hypertension-high-blood-pressure/)
- Get regular exercise as advised by your doctor (link to this article https://blog.teleme.co/2018/07/10/how-much-should-we-exercise-daily/)
- Always take all medications as prescribed by your doctor
If you experience symptoms similar to those you had before your procedure, such as chest pain or shortness of breath, contact your doctor. If you have chest pain at rest or pain that doesn’t respond to nitroglycerin, call 911 (or 999) or see your doctor immediately.
Disclaimer. TELEME blog posts contains general information about health conditions and treatments. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The information is not advice and should not be treated as such.