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Balloon Angioplasty  

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A coronary angioplasty is a procedure to open an artery in the heart that has become narrowed. This allows better blood flow through the artery and to the heart muscle. It is often done with a balloon that is passed through a special catheter (tube).


Reasons for Procedure  

Atherosclerosis is a disease of the arteries. Cholesterol and fatty deposits build up on the walls of the arteries. This restricts blood flow. When this buildup happens in the heart, it may lead to a heart attack . Lifestyle changes and medicines can be used to treat atherosclerosis. If they are not enough, an angioplasty may be done.


Possible Complications  

If you are planning to have an angioplasty, your doctor will review a list of possible complications which may include:

  • Bleeding at the point of catheter insertion
  • Damage to the walls of arteries, causing you to need more procedures or surgery
  • Heart attack or abnormal heart beats called arrhythmia
  • Allergic reaction to x-ray dye
  • Blood clots
  • Infection
  • Stroke
  • Temporary kidney failure

Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:


What to Expect  

Prior to Procedure  

Your doctor will likely do the following.

In the days leading up to your procedure:

  • Talk to your doctor about your current medicines. Certain medicines may need to be stopped before the procedure, such as:
    • Anti-inflammatory drugs (eg, ibuprofen) for up to one week before surgery
    • Blood-thinning medicines such as warfarin (Coumadin)
    • Metformin (Glucophage) or glyburide and metformin (Glucovance)
  • You should take aspirin before and during the procedure. Your doctor may also prescribe clopidogrel (Plavix) before the procedure.
  • The night before, eat a light meal. Do not eat or drink anything after midnight.
  • Arrange for a ride to and from the procedure.
  • Arrange for help at home after returning from the hospital.


Local anesthetic will be given. It will numb the area of the groin or arm where the catheter will be inserted. You will also be given sedation and pain medicine through an IV. This will help to keep you comfortable during the procedure.

Description of Procedure  

The area of the groin or arm where the catheter will be inserted will be shaved, cleaned, and numbed. A needle will be inserted into the artery. You will receive blood-thinning medicines during the procedure. A wire will be passed through the needle and into the artery. The wire will be guided through until it reaches the blocked artery in the heart. A soft, flexible catheter tube will then be slipped over the wire and threaded up to the blockage.

The doctor will be taking x-rays during the procedure to know where the wire and catheter are located. Dye will be injected into the arteries of the heart. This will provide a better view of the arteries and blockages.

After the blockage is reached, a small balloon at the tip of the catheter will be rapidly inflated and deflated. This will stretch the artery open. The deflated balloon, catheter, and wire will be removed.

Your doctor may also insert a small mesh tube called a stent into the artery where there was a narrowing. A stent acts to keep the artery open by providing support inside it.

After the procedure is done and the blood-thinning medicines have worn off, the catheter will be removed. Pressure will be applied for 20-30 minutes to control bleeding.

A bandage will be placed over the groin or arm.

How Long Will It Take?  

30 minutes to three hours

Will It Hurt?  

The anesthetic should numb the area where the catheter is inserted. You may feel a burning sensation when the anesthesia is given. You may also feel pressure when the catheters are moved. Some people have a flushed feeling or