Coronary angioplasty, also known as percutaneous coronary intervention or PCI, is a minimally invasive, non-surgical procedure used to open narrowed arteries. It involves the use of a flexible catheter with a balloon at the tip which is inflated at high pressure on the narrowed arterial wall. Usually a stent (metallic wire mesh) will be placed in the artery after angioplasty. This will force the arterial plaque against the blood vessel and improve the blood flow to the heart muscle.Coronary angioplasty is associated with a relatively lower risk and faster recovery than coronary bypass surgery, an open heart surgery. However, the artery can narrow again despite the stent.
You are required to go for pre-admission testing which includes:
The procedure is performed under local anaesthesia. A small puncture is made, usually in the groin, wrist or elbow. A sheath is inserted into the opening and a guiding catheter is placed through the sheath into the blood vessel. Contrast is injected through the catheter so that the doctor can see the arteries on the X-ray screen.
Once the catheter reached the narrowed artery, the doctor will position the balloon within the blocked section of the artery. The balloon is then inflated to squash the blockage so that blood flow can be restored to normal.You should try and get a good night’s sleep.
Mild sedation may be prescribed by your doctor.
You will be instructed not to eat or drink anything for a period of at least six hours before the procedure.On the day of the procedure, you will be asked to remove your dentures, contact lenses and any jewellery. Please do not bring money or valuables on the day of your procedure. Additional shaving may take place (over the groin area) if necessary.The duration of this procedure varies depending on the case but usually takes about an hour.
After the procedure is completed, you will be taken back to the ward for recovery. You will be nursed in the High Dependency Unit (HDU), Intermediate Care Area (ICA) or in the Coronary Care Unit (CCU), where you will be observed for bleeding, heart rhythm disturbances and complications that may occur in the period immediately following the coronary angioplasty. A nurse will frequently check your pulse, blood pressure, and observe the procedure site for bleeding.Your doctor will discuss the results and outcome of your procedure, and advise you on further treatment if necessary. If the point of access was your groin, a small plastic sheath may be left in place for several hours after the procedure, and once removed, will be compressed manually thereafter in order to achieve adequate wound healing and prevent bleeding.If the procedure is uncomplicated, most patients can be discharged on the same day or the next day. Patients are usually discharged from the hospital within two to four days. On discharge, you should continue to take the medicines (especially the blood thinners) given to you by your doctor regularly and come for the scheduled follow-up appointments.
You are encouraged to attend the Cardiovascular Rehabilitation & Preventive Cardiology Programme after your coronary angioplasty procedure. The programme will enable, encourage and assist you on the road to recovery.For more information on our programme, click here.