Key Points about Coronary Angioplasty & Stent Placement

  • Angioplasty pushes plaque to the sides of the walls of an artery, so the vessels can open and allow blood to flow through
  • Angioplasties can result in more energy, increased blood flow, and a reduction in chest pain
  • Your doctor may place a stent in the area of the procedure to help keep the artery open
  • A stent is a small, collapsed, wire mesh tube

Overview

During a coronary angioplasty, a vascular surgeon opens up narrowed arteries using a catheter (thin, flexible tube) and a tiny balloon inflated with air. In some cases, a stent is placed to keep the artery open.

In the procedure, physicians widen the artery and restore blood flow to an affected area.

Candidates for a coronary angioplasty and stent placement

Your doctor might suggest angioplasty and stent placement as a treatment for people who:

  • Have heart conditions or general health can’t be improved with medications or lifestyle changes
  • Have recently had a heart attack
  • Experience chest pain or other symptoms

Risks associated with coronary angioplasty and stent placement

Because the procedure involves arteries around the heart, there is an increased risk for:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Bleeding around the area
  • Artery blockage
  • Developing blood clots
  • Re-narrowing of the artery

Preparing for coronary angioplasty and stent placement

This procedure often occurs during emergency treatment, but if it’s a scheduled operation, you can prepare by:

  • Informing your doctor of medications you’re taking that make it difficult for blood to clot
  • Telling your doctor about any conditions you may have

You’ll likely be asked to not eat or drink for a timeframe prior to the procedure. Because the procedure usually involves a brief hospital stay, you’ll need someone there assist you in getting back home.

Duration of a coronary angioplasty and stent placement

You will remain awake during the procedure, but will receive local anesthetic. You may also receive pain medication.

A tube or catheter is inserted through an artery in your arm or leg and a small balloon at the end is inflated. This helps to widen the area around the blockage. Once the area is stretched, the balloon is deflated and removed. The stretching could happen multiple times.

Recovery from a coronary angioplasty and stent placement

  • Patients will usually feel soreness at the site of the incision
  • Your physician will likely prescribe medication to prevent your blood from coagulating
  • When you return home after the procedure, stay hydrated
  • Refrain from any strenuous physical activity