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Coronary Angioplasty


Coronary angioplasty is a procedure that opens arteries in your heart that have a buildup of plaque. Plaque is a mixture of fat and cholesterol. This procedure helps to increase blood flow to your heart.


Before your procedure:

  • Informed consent is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.
  • Blood tests are done to give caregivers information about how your body is working. The blood may be taken from your hand, arm, or IV.
  • Heart monitoring is also called an ECG or EKG. Sticky pads placed on your skin record your heart's electrical activity.
  • An IV is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.
  • A sedative will be given to you right before the procedure. This medicine may make you feel sleepy and more relaxed.
  • Blood thinner medicine will be given to prevent clots from forming during the procedure.

During your procedure:

  • You will receive local anesthesia that will numb the area where the catheter (long, thin tube) will be placed. You will be awake during the procedure so that your caregivers can give you instructions. You may be asked to cough or hold your breath during the procedure.
  • A catheter is put into an artery, usually in your groin. The catheter is gently guided through this artery to your heart and into the narrowed or blocked artery. Caregivers will use x-rays and dye to find this artery. You may feel warm as the dye is put into the catheter. A guidewire is then placed into this catheter and into the artery. Caregivers may do any of the following to open your arteries:
    • A balloon catheter is guided into the artery using the guidewire. Caregivers inflate the balloon several times for short periods. The inflated balloon pushes the plaque against the artery walls. This opens them and allows more blood flow to your heart.
    • A stent may be placed into your artery. A stent is a tiny mesh tube or coil. Caregivers may use another balloon catheter to place a stent in your artery. The stent will be left in your artery to help keep it open.
    • A catheter with a laser at the end may be placed into your artery. Caregivers may use energy from a laser to break up the plaque in your artery instead of a using a balloon catheter.

After your procedure:

The catheter and guidewire will be taken out of the artery and a pressure bandage will be put on the area. You may have a collagen plug, stitches, or staples to stop the bleeding. Caregivers will put pressure on the bandage with a device that helps stop bleeding. You will be taken to a room to rest. You will need to lie still and flat for 3 to 6 hours after the procedure to prevent bleeding. Do not get out of bed until your caregiver says it is okay. Caregivers will monitor you closely for any problems. When your caregiver sees that you are okay, you will be taken to your hospital room.

  • Tell your caregiver if you have any of the following:
    • Chest pain or discomfort
    • Change in color or temperature of your leg
    • Numbness and weakness in your leg
    • Pain in your side, back, or abdomen
    • Nausea


  • You may develop a hematoma (swelling caused by collection of blood) or bleed more than expected from your catheter site. The dye used during angioplasty may cause an allergic reaction or kidney problems. You may develop an infection. An artery in your heart may become completely closed or have a spasm. If this happens, your heart will not get enough blood. This may cause chest pain or a heart attack. You might need heart surgery right away to bypass (go around) the artery.
  • You may get a blood clot. The clot may cause life-threatening problems, such as a heart attack or stroke. Your arteries may become blocked again, and you may need another angioplasty or heart surgery. If you do not have this procedure, plaque may continue to build up in your arteries and cause a heart attack.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Coronary Angioplasty (Inpatient Care)

Micromedex® Care Notes