Angioplasty is a procedure to restore blood flow in narrowed coronary arteries.
During angioplasty, the doctor puts a thin, flexible tube called a catheter into an artery in your groin or arm. The doctor guides the tube into the narrowed coronary artery. Dye is put into the catheter to make the artery show up on an X-ray. This helps the doctor see narrow parts that limit blood flow.
The doctor uses the catheter to put a small balloon into the narrowed part of the artery. The doctor expands the balloon for a short time. This widens the artery to allow blood to flow more easily. The doctor may put a small, expandable tube called a stent in the artery to keep it open.
Before the procedure, you may get medicine that relaxes you or puts you in a light sleep. The area where the catheter is put in will be numb. You may feel a brief sting or pinch from the numbing medicine. Most people do not have pain when the catheter is in the blood vessel. You will probably feel some warmth when the dye is put in.
The procedure can take a few hours. This includes the time to get ready for the procedure and the time to recover after it. You may go home the same day. Or you may stay at least 1 night in the hospital. After you leave the hospital, you will avoid strenuous activity and not lift anything heavy until your doctor says it is okay. This may be for several days.
Treatment after angioplasty
It's important to continue medical therapy. This includes having a heart-healthy lifestyle and taking medicines to prevent a heart attack and stroke.
If you get a stent, you may take aspirin plus another medicine to prevent blood clots. How long you will take the medicines depends on the type of stent you have. If your stent is coated with medicine to prevent clots, you may take both medicines for at least 6 months. If your stent is bare metal, you may take both medicines for at least 1 month. After that, you will likely keep taking one of the medicines.
If you have a high risk of bleeding, your doctor may shorten the time you take these medicines. You can work with your doctor to decide how long you will take both of these medicines.
You may still need medicine such as nitroglycerin when you have angina symptoms. But you may not need to take it as often.
To have a heart-healthy lifestyle, be active, eat healthy foods, stay at a healthy weight, manage other health problems, and don't smoke.