Coronary angioplasty (percutaneous coronary intervention)

What is a coronary angioplasty?

A coronary angioplasty, sometimes known as a percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), is a surgical procedure performed to treat atherosclerosis. As we age, our arteries can become narrow and harden, sometimes becoming blocked, which is known as atherosclerosis. Your consultant may widen the damaged coronary arteries to restore blood flow to the heart to prevent further conditions and issues, such as angina.

What does a coronary angioplasty involve?

Your consultant will perform a coronary angiography, by inserting a catheter tube into a blood vessel and guiding it to your heart using an x-ray, to view images of your damaged arteries and prepare for your procedure. During the angioplasty procedure, your consultant will insert a small balloon into your damaged artery and inflate it, stretching and widening the artery walls slightly. If necessary, a wire mesh tube, also known as a stent, may be inserted into the artery to ensure it stays widened and allows sufficient blood flow. Should you require a stent, you will also be prescribed medication.

Coronary angioplasty recovery time

You will be required to stay overnight after your procedure, and to rest for a week at home. You will have to inform the DVLA of your coronary angioplasty procedure if you drive a heavy vehicle, such as a bus. You may be prescribed a course of medication for over a year.

What risks should I know about?

As with all surgical procedures, there is a small risk of infection and bleeding. You may experience bruising at the surgical catheter site, but this should subside within a few days. There is a risk of a stroke, heart attack, or death caused by this procedure. Each medication will come with their own side effects, but your consultant should discuss this with you and answer any questions you may have.

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