Coronary Angioplasty

Coronary angioplasty is a percutaneous coronary intervention. It is used to open the blocked heart arteries. This procedure involves using a balloon to widen the blocked arteries, which enhances blood flow to the heart. The procedure is generally combined with a stent placement procedure to reduce the risk of re-narrowing the arteries. These stents may be coated with drugs (drug-eluting stents) to maintain the opening of the artery.

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  • Preparing for Angioplasty: The patient undergoes a comprehensive examination and medical history before angioplasty. The doctor may also perform a chest X-ray, blood test, and echocardiogram before the procedure. Coronary angiography is also performed to determine the site of the blockage and if it can be removed through angioplasty. Patients should stop blood-thinning medications before the procedure.
  • Procedure for Angioplasty: Angioplasty is done through the arm, groin, and wrist arteries. Generally, the patient does not require anesthesia. However, the doctor may administer sedatives to keep the patient relaxed. The doctor inserts the guidewire into the artery. The doctor injects the contrast dye through the catheter, which assists in the identification of the site of the blockage. The guidewire has a deflated balloon at the tip, which is inflated at the site of the blockage, thereby widening the blocked artery. The balloon is again deflated and removed. Sometimes, the patients also have the stent placed at the site of blockage to prevent re-narrowing of the artery.
  • Caring after Angioplasty: Patients should follow all the instructions of the cardiologists. They should take their medications as prescribed , avoid smoking and drinking alcohol, maintain a healthy lifestyle, keep their weight within healthy limits, manage underlying medical conditions, such as hypertension and hypercholesterolemia, consume healthy food, and manage stress through yoga and meditation.
  • Sleeping after Angiography: The patients should preferably sleep on their backs after angioplasty. It results in appropriate spine, neck, and head alignment and reduces pressure on the chest and heart. Sometimes, the patient may have trouble getting off the bed. In such cases, extra pillows should be used.


Coronary angioplasty is a minimally invasive procedure that involves inserting a thin tube (catheter) with a balloon at the end into narrowed or blocked arteries in the heart. The balloon is inflated to widen the artery and restore proper blood flow.

Coronary angioplasty is typically recommended for individuals with narrowed or blocked coronary arteries due to conditions like coronary artery disease (CAD) or unstable angina. It aims to relieve symptoms such as chest pain (angina) and improve blood flow to prevent heart attacks.

In many cases, stents placed during coronary angioplasty can effectively treat blocked arteries without requiring bypass grafting (open-heart surgery). However, this decision ultimately depends on individual circumstances such as multiple blockages, location of blockages, vessel size limitations, or other complex factors best evaluated by your cardiologist or cardiac surgeon.

During the procedure, a thin tube called a catheter is inserted through an artery in your wrist or groin and guided to the blocked artery in your heart. A deflated balloon attached to the catheter is then inflated at the blockage site, pushing aside fatty deposits and widening the artery. In some cases, a stent may be placed to keep the artery open.

Possible complications can include bleeding at the insertion site, damage to blood vessels, allergic reactions contrast dye used during imaging tests, irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia), kidney problems related to dye usage, or rare instances of heart attack during or after surgery.

While both procedures aim for similar outcomes — improving blood flow to the heart — they differ in terms of invasiveness and approach. Coronary angioplasty is a minimally invasive procedure performed by threading a catheter through an artery, while open-heart surgery involves making an incision in the chest to access the heart.

The choice between coronary angioplasty and open-heart surgery depends on various factors such as the extent and severity of blockages, overall health condition, patient preference, and consultation with your healthcare provider. Your doctor will evaluate your specific situation to determine which option is most suitable for you.

Like any medical procedure, there are risks associated with coronary angioplasty; however, it has proven to be generally safe and effective when performed by experienced healthcare professionals under appropriate conditions.

Coronary angioplasty offers several advantages compared to open-heart surgery including:

  • Minimally invasive nature with smaller incisions or even non-surgical options.
  • Shorter recovery time.
  • Reduced risk of complications.
  • Less post-operative pain.

However, it's essential to note that not all cases can be treated with angioplasty alone; some severe blockages may require open-heart surgery for better outcomes.