Interventional Procedures

What is an Angioplasty?

An angioplasty is a procedure used to open blocked arteries, to open narrowed arteries in the heart, kidneys, carotid, or leg arteries, or to reduce or alleviate signs/symptoms of blockage. It’s often done immediately after an angiogram, although it is done at other times also. Both angioplasty and stenting are often used together.

What to Expect Prior to the Procedure

  • You will be contacted by a nurse from the Cardiac Catheterization Lab 1-2 business days prior to your procedure to review health history and instructions. The questions we asked are necessary to assure proper medical care. The phone call will take approximately 10-15 minutes.
  • You will be asked for a list of your current medications and dosages.
  • Inform nurse if you are taking Warfarin/Coumadin. (Coumadin is often discontinued prior to your procedure.)
  • Blood work is required prior to your procedure to assure electrolyte balance and clotting function.

Read and print out full instructions.

What to Expect the Day of the Procedure

  • Do not eat or drink anything after midnight.
  • You will be instructed on which medications you may take with water.
  • Bring a list of your current medications and dosages with you.
  • Arrive at the given time; there is no need to arrive early.
  • You will meet several people who will be your health care team.
  • The procedure, including benefits and risks involved, will be discussed with you.

What to Expect During the Procedure

  • IV medicine will be given to help you relax and keep you comfortable.
  • Your blood pressure, heart rate, and oxygen level will be monitored.
  • The procedure is done under sterile conditions.
  • If you are undergoing an angioplasty to the carotid artery, sedation medication is not used so your mental status can be monitored.
  • If your procedure is immediately following your angiogram, you will already have a catheter in your artery. If not, medication will be used to numb the entry site (most likely the groin, wrist, or elbow area).
    How it feels—There is some stinging and/or burning as the numbing medicine is placed.
  • A catheter (long, hollow tube) with a deflated balloon is directed to a blockage using digital images. Once at the blockage, the balloon is inflated, which presses the blockage into the wall of the vessel. The balloon is deflated and removed from the artery, leaving the artery open.
    How it feels—
    You may have chest discomfort or angina while the balloon is inflated. No sensations are felt in the artery.
  • Patients often have a stent placed also.
  • The procedure takes about 1 to 2 hours.
  • Once the procedure is done, the tube in your artery will be removed. There are many techniques to control bleeding at this site. The technique most appropriate to you and your situation will be decided by the physician.
  • After the procedure, the physician will talk with you and a family member per your request.

What to Expect After the Procedure

  • You will be on bedrest for 4-6 hours after the procedure. One visitor at a time will be allowed to sit with you.
  • If you have an angioplasty of the heart or carotid arteries, you will be monitored overnight in the hospital.
  • If you have an angioplasty of a leg artery, you may stay overnight.
  • If you have an angioplasty of your kidney artery, you will most likely be discharged approximately 4-8 hours after your procedure.
  • You must arrange a ride home accompanied by a responsible adult. Once home, a responsible adult must be with you for 3 hours. 
  • You should also expect to be prescribed the following medications to help prevent further blockages (these will be discussed with you during your hospitalization):
    • Statin-cholesterol medicine
    • Beta Blocker (protects the heart/controls blood pressure)
    • Ace inhibitor (protects the heart)
    • Aspirin daily

Activity Restrictions

  • No heavy lifting, pushing, or pulling greater than 10 pounds for 5 days.
  • After 5 days, no heavy activity that causes deep/heavy breathing for 6-8 weeks.
  • No driving for 5 days.
  • No tub baths, swimming, or hot tubs for 7 days.
  • Most patients return to work within one week.
  • Specific instructions will be given to you at discharge.

Common Experiences When You Are Home

  • Tiredness that day.
  • Tenderness at the procedure site.
  • May have a small bump (size of a quarter) at the procedure site.
  • Bruising is common at the procedure site.

What You Should Report Immediately

Upon discharge, we will provide you with a phone number to contact us if you experience any of the following:

  • Severe discomfort at the insertion site
  • Bleeding at the insertion site
  • Increase in chest, arm, or jaw pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Redness or signs of infection at the insertion site

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