What is Coronary Angioplasty?

Coronary angioplasty is a procedure used to treat coronary heart disease. During coronary angioplasty, a small balloon is inflated inside one or more of your coronary arteries to open up an area that has become narrow. This will improve blood flow to your heart.

Coronary heart disease is when your coronary arteries, the arteries which carry oxygen and nutrients to your heart become blocked or show narrowing with fatty material known as ‘plaque’ or ‘atheroma’. Fatty materials slowly build up on the inside wall of your arteries, causing them to narrow.

If your arteries become too narrow, the blood supply to your heart muscle is reduced which may lead to symptoms such as angina. If you are prescribed Xeralto, Eliquis or Pradaxa you will need to cease these medications 48 hours prior to your procedure. If a blood clot forms in the narrowed artery completely blocking the blood supply to a particular part of your heart, it can lead to a life-threatening heart attack. If you are prescribed Xeralto, Eliquis or Pradaxa you will need to cease these medications 48 hours prior to your procedure.

Coronary angioplasty and stenting is an effective treatment for Coronary Heart Disease however it is not a cure. Some arteries may narrow or become blocked again at or near the angioplasty site. This situation can lead to the return of the original symptoms and further treatment may be required.

Why do I need Coronary Angioplasty?

Your cardiologist may recommend coronary angioplasty as treatment for coronary heart disease to open narrow arteries, restoring blood flow to your heart muscle minimising damage to it. In most cases, this will also involve putting a stent (a small tube like device) in the area of the coronary artery being treated.

How do I prepare for Coronary Angioplasty?

As this procedure is undertaken in hospital with an overnight admission, you will need to complete your admission paperwork, which the Nepean Cardiology staff will provide to you, and return to the admitting hospital at least three days prior to your admission date. This paperwork can be submitted online for Peninsula Private Hospital if you’d prefer.

You will need to fast for six hours prior to the admission time however any medication you need to continue to take can be taken with a sip of water.

If you are currently prescribed Warfarin you will need to cease taking this medication five days prior to your admission.

Please continue to take Aspirin, Plavix and any other medications as normal unless specifically directed by your Cardiologist to cease them. Please bring a list of current medications, and the medication bottles with you to the hospital.

Please ensure you bring an overnight bag as you will be required to stay in hospital overnight.

What should I expect on the day of my Coronary Angiography?

Once admitted to hospital, you will be asked to remove any jewellery and put a hospital gown on. If required a nurse may shave the area where the catheter is to be inserted. A doctor will then give you a brief physical examination, and answer any questions that you may have.

In some cases you may be given a sedative about an hour prior to the test to help you to relax. However, you will be awake throughout the procedure.

You will be taken to a special operating theatre known as a ‘Cath-Lab’ on a trolley, or in a wheelchair where you will be asked to lie on a narrow table, which will be moved from side to side during the procedure. Your heart rate will be continuously monitored throughout the procedure. You may also have a small needle inserted in the back of your hand to allow medication to be given during the procedure.

The doctor will inject a local anaesthetic into your groin, arm or wrist and a small cut will be made where the catheter is to be inserted.

The catheter will be moved through the main blood vessel of your body (the aorta), to the beginning of the coronary arteries on your heart. Its progress is monitored via X-rays shown on a monitor. Most people will not feel any pain or sensation during the procedure. There are no nerves inside your arteries, so you will not feel the movement of catheters.

When the catheter is in place, a small amount of dye will be injected, this dye helps the cardiologist to see you arteries and the narrowing within them. A second catheter with a balloon at the tip is fed through the same artery and into the narrowed section of the artery. The balloon is then inflated and deflated a number of times to widen the artery, a stent may then be

inserted to ensure the artery stays open. Some people experience nausea or discomfort in their chest, but this does not last long.

The procedure will take around 30 to 40 minutes. When the procedure is complete, the catheter will be removed and pressure applied to the area where it was inserted.

The X-ray dye passes through your kidneys and is excreted in your urine.

What happens afterwards?

Your doctor will explain the results of the procedure and the need for any further procedures. Your cardiologist will most likely request a follow up appointment four to six weeks after your angioplasty procedure.

Are there any risks?

As with any medical tests, there are some risks, but serious side effects are rare. Most people have no trouble, and the benefits usually far outweigh the risks. You should discuss with your doctor any questions or concerns that you may have about coronary angioplasty.

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