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Coronary Angioplasty

Coronary angioplasty is an interventional, or non-surgical, cardiology procedure used to open narrow or blocked heart arteries. Angioplasty relieves symptoms of coronary artery disease by improving blood flow to your heart. If it's determined your condition might benefit from a coronary angioplasty, your heart doctor will talk to you and explain how angioplasty can help.

At Dignity Health Heart and Vascular Institute of Greater Sacramento, we offer the latest minimally invasive tools to help our cardiology patients recover faster with less pain and better results.

What to Expect During Angioplasty

  • Your heart doctor will insert a guide wire through the guiding catheter (a thin, flexible tube) and move it to the narrow spot in your artery. Your doctor tracks its movement on an angiogram, a special kind of X-ray.
  • Then, your doctor will insert a balloon-tipped catheter through the guiding catheter, thread the balloon-tipped catheter over the guide wire and position it at the narrow part of the artery.
  • The balloon is inflated and deflated several times to compress the plaque against the artery wall. You may feel angina (chest pain) when the balloon is inflated. Tell your doctor if you do.
  • Finally, your doctor will deflate the balloon and remove the catheters and guide wire. The artery is now open, and blood flow to the heart muscle increases.

What to Expect After Coronary Angioplasty

After a coronary angioplasty, you usually remain in the hospital for several hours or overnight. In the hospital:

  • You'll need to remain lying down for six to 12 hours.
  • If the insertion site was in your groin, you may need to keep your leg still for several hours.
  • A nurse will check the insertion site and your blood pressure. Before going home, you may have a chest X-ray and other tests.
  • Once you go home, call your doctor if:
  • You have angina (chest pain).
  • The insertion site has pain, swelling, redness, bleeding or drainage.
  • You have severe pain, coldness or a bluish color in the leg or arm that held the catheter.
  • You experience blood in your urine, black or tarry stools or any other kind of bleeding.
  • You have a fever over 101°F.