5 Things to Know About Coronary Angioplasty and Stenting

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Hedy Marks MPH on August 31, 2020
  • Coronary-Angiography
    Get the information you need for treating clogged arteries.
    Coronary artery disease (CAD) occurs when fatty deposits build up within coronary artery walls and harden into a substance called plaque. As plaque builds on coronary artery walls, the arteries clog up, narrow, and harden. Blood clots may develop and eventually, a serious blockage can occur. The blockage increases the risk of a heart attack. Coronary angioplasty and stenting are procedures that can improve blood flow through diseased coronary arteries. Knowing the facts about this life-saving procedure will help you make an informed treatment decision.
  • cathlab-in-modern-hospital
    1. It improves heart disease symptoms and reduces the risk of heart attack.
    CAD is the most common type of heart disease. CAD kills about 380,000 people every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Heart doctors perform angioplasty and stenting to treat a severely blocked or narrowed artery; to prevent or treat a heart attack; and to treat severe CAD symptoms including angina (chest pain) and shortness of breath. You may also have angioplasty and stenting to open a narrowed or closed bypass graft from previous heart bypass surgery.
  • surgeons-operating-on-patient
    2. Heart specialists perform the procedure with a catheter.
    Cardiologists and heart surgeons with training in interventional cardiology perform coronary angioplasty and place stents. Interventional cardiology uses catheter-based procedures and X-rays or other imaging techniques to diagnose and treat heart disease. Catheters are narrow, flexible, soft plastic tubes that doctors use to perform minimally invasive surgical procedures.
  • Angioplasty
    3. It’s a minimally invasive procedure in a hospital.
    You’ll have the procedure in a part of the hospital called the cardiac catheterization laboratory, or “cath lab.” You’ll have light sedation and your care team will numb the incision area in your arm or groin. The catheter goes through the incision into an artery to reach the heart vessel that needs treatment. For angioplasty, your doctor widens the artery by inflating a balloon several times. The balloon also expands the mesh-like metal stent. After blood is flowing normally, your doctor will remove the wire and balloon. The stent will stay in place. Your care team puts a bandage over the incision in your arm or groin.
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    4. Complications are possible but not common.
    After the procedure, you’ll need to lie still for several hours in a recovery room until the artery in your arm or groin sufficiently heals. Complications after coronary angioplasty and stenting are uncommon, but any procedure involves risks and possible complications. Risks of coronary angioplasty and stenting include bleeding, infection, blood clots, artery damage, heart attack, radiation exposure, and kidney problems. You could also have a reaction to sedation, medications, or contrast agents, or sudden blockage of the treated artery.
  • Mature-couple-riding-bikes-in-countryside
    5. It will likely improve symptoms but it’s not a cure for heart disease.
    Coronary angioplasty and stenting can prevent or treat a heart attack and ease coronary artery disease symptoms. Most people enjoy a better quality of life after the procedure because their heart is getting the oxygen it needs and breathing is easier. However, coronary angioplasty and stenting can’t prevent or reverse the process of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). To reduce your risk of further problems, take your medicines as prescribed by your doctor, eat a heart-healthy diet, exercise regularly, and don’t smoke.
5 Things to Know About Coronary Angioplasty and Stenting

About The Author

  1. Heart Disease Facts. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm
  2. Angioplasty and stenting. Massachusetts General Hospital. http://www.massgeneral.org/imaging/services/procedure.aspx?id=2265
  3. Angioplasty and Stenting. Society of Interventional Radiology. http://www.sirweb.org/patients/angioplasty-stent/
  4. Angioplasty and Vascular Stenting. American College of Radiology. http://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=angioplasty
  5. PAD: Atherectomy. Cleveland Clinic. http://my.clevelandclinic.org/services/heart/services/pad-treatments/pad-atherectomy
  6. How Can Atherosclerosis Be Prevented or Delayed? National Institutes of Health. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/atherosclerosis/prevention
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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2020 Aug 31
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.