Coronary Artery Disease

Learn more about coronary angioplasty, a procedure used to open blocked or narrowed coronary arteries.

What is a Coronary Angioplasty?

A coronary angiography is a procedure to visualise the coronary arteries. 

An angioplasty is usually combined with the insertion of a stent, a small wire mesh tube that helps to prop the artery open and reduce the chances of it narrowing again.

Preparing for a Coronary Angioplasty 

Take the time to learn about coronary angioplasty and don’t be afraid of asking your doctor questions about the treatment as it is a major procedure. In preparation, your doctor will provide you with specific instructions about eating or drinking before the angioplasty. Usually, you will be instructed to stop eating or drinking six to eight hours before undergoing the procedure.

Your doctor will also conduct a thorough review, and ask you about:

Medications you are currently taking
Medications you cannot take or may be allergic to
Any history of bleeding problems 
Any metal allergies 
Any surgery or dental work that you have scheduled

If you are a woman, your doctor may want to know whether you are pregnant or nursing or have any plans to get pregnant. Some routine investigations, including blood tests, an electrocardiogram (ECG) and a chest X-ray may be done before the procedure.

You will also need to sign a consent form after your doctor has explained to you the risks of the procedure.

On The Day of Your Coronary Angioplasty 

On the morning of your procedure, you will be asked to empty your bladder. Parts of your body, usually your groin and upper thighs, will also be shaved before the angioplasty is conducted.

Step 1: Insertion of Sheath
After an injection of a local anaesthetic, a plastic tube called a sheath is inserted into a large artery in the groin or wrist.

Step 2: Insertion of Catheter
Through this sheath, a catheter — a long and narrow tube — is inserted in the narrowed coronary artery. A small ballon at the end of the cathether is inflated to widen the blocked artery.

Step 3: Stenting
The procedure may be terminated here or be followed by another procedure called stenting where a small metal or polymer coil is placed to serve as a scaffold.The procedure may range from 30 minutes to two hours, depending on the severity of the diseased artery. Your doctor will then use a special X-ray machine to to assess how well your artery has opened. The stent is left behind and may slowly release medication to treat the diseased area

Once the stent is positioned, the balloon catheter will be removed. The doctor will then conduct angiograms to assess how well your blood flows is through your newly widened artery.

After Your Coronary Angioplasty 

The sheath may be kept in your artery for four to six hours. Alternatively, the sheath may be removed in the laboratory immediately after the procedure if the situation allows.

Upon removal of the sheath, the puncture site will be compressed for about 30 minutes to ensure that there is no bleeding. You will have to remain in bed for several hours following a puncture to ensure sufficient healing of the puncture site before you walk. Your cardiologist will determine how long you need to be in bed before you can engage in light activity such as sitting, standing or walking.

Blood tests and ECGs may be performed to monitor your condition. If there are no complications, you may be discharged on the same day or the day after. 

To learn more about coronary angiography and angioplasty, click here

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