Angioplasty is widely used to treat blockages or narrowing in the coronary arteries. The aims are to help you return to a fuller and more active life, and to reduce your risk of future heart problems.
A small puncture is needed in the groin or arm. Local anaesthetic is used to reduce any discomfort. A small hollow tube on a wire called a catheter is guided into an artery and along to your heart. Using X-ray pictures as guidance, the catheter is positioned where the narrowing is. A balloon is inflated to open the artery and improve blood flow. A stent (a metal tube to hold open an artery) is usually left in larger arteries. A stent is a metal coil, slotted or mesh tube that is mounted on a balloon. When the balloon is inflated, the stent expands. When the balloon is deflated, the stent remains expanded, acting as scaffolding to hold the artery open. A stent is permanently in the artery; the lining of the artery will grow over the stent. The catheter with its deflated balloon is then removed.
The procedure may be quite simple and completed in 20 minutes or so. Sometimes is can be technically difficult and take much longer.
Recovery immediately after the procedure involves resting. If the catheter was inserted in your groin, then you need to keep fairly still for several hours to allow the insertion site to heal.
After angioplasty or stent insertion
Most people do not need to be in hospital for long after this treatment. Your heart is hopefully working much better straight after the treatment now that it has a better blood supply. You may find that you can immediately start to do much more than before. Don’t forget that your level of fitness before the procedure will affect how much you can do. You may need to build up your activities gradually to increase your fitness.