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Also known as PCI and PTCA

Why would I need coronary angioplasty?
Coronary angioplasty is a technique for treating coronary heart disease and angina. It helps to improve the blood supply to the heart muscle and can help to relieve angina symptoms. Angioplasty may also be performed if you have had coronary bypass surgery, but your angina has returned.

Before you have an angioplasty you will need to have an angiogram. It is often performed at the same time as an angiogram. Angioplasty is also used as an emergency treatment to treat people who have had a heart attack , when it is called as Primary angioplasty (Primary PCI).

How is the procedure carried out?
The start of the procedure is the same as an angiogram. A catheter – a fine, flexible, hollow tube – with a small inflatable balloon at its tip is passed into an artery in either your groin or your arm. The operator then uses X-ray screening to direct the catheter to a coronary artery until its tip reaches a narrow or blocked section.

A balloon is gently inflated so that it squashes the fatty tissue ion the narrowed artery, allowing the blood to flow more easily. The catheter contains a stent which is small tube made of stainless steel mesh. As the balloon is inflated, the stent expands so that it holds open the narrowed blood vessel. The balloon is let down and removed, leaving the stent in place. If you have a stent you will need to take certain anti-platelet drugs to help reduce the risk of blood clots forming round the stent.

What happens after the procedure?
When the test is over, the catheters are removed. Sometimes there may be a small amount of bleeding when they are taken out. A nurse or doctor will press on the area for a short while or they may put in a plug called an angioseal to stop any bleeding in groin or band around the wrist depending on the access route. After the procedure, you will need to stay in bed for a while.

Most people can go home the same day or the day after. However if you have had an angioplasty as an emergency procedure it is likely you will need to stay in hospital longer.

When you get home check your groin area. Expect to have some bruising, but if you get any redness, swelling or if the bruising worsens, contact your doctor. Before you leave hospital, you will be told what you can and can’t do when you get home. It’s best to avoid doing any demanding activities, such as heavy lifting for a week or so. Most people find that they will be back to normal after a few days. However if you have also had a heart attack, you will take longer to recover.

      Doctor Tips
Angina is an uncomfortable feeling or pain in the chest.
It usually feels like a heaviness or tightness.
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