Before you have coronary angioplasty, your doctor will need to know the location and extent of the blockages in your coronary (heart) arteries. To find this information, your doctor will use coronary angiography (an-jee-OG-rah-fee). This test uses dye and special x rays to show the insides of your arteries.
During angiography, a small tube (or tubes) called a catheter is inserted into an artery, usually in the groin (upper thigh). The catheter is threaded to the coronary arteries.
Special dye, which is visible on x-ray pictures, is injected through the catheter. The
x-ray pictures are taken as the dye flows through your coronary arteries. The dye shows whether blockages are present and their location and severity.
For the angioplasty procedure, another catheter with a balloon at its tip (a balloon catheter) is inserted in the coronary artery and placed in the blockage. Then, the balloon is expanded. This pushes the plaque against the artery wall, relieving the blockage and improving blood flow.
A small mesh tube called a stent usually is placed in the artery during angioplasty. The stent is wrapped around the deflated balloon catheter before the catheter is inserted into the artery.
When the balloon is inflated to compress the plaque, the stent expands and attaches to the artery wall. The stent supports the inner artery wall and reduces the chance of the artery becoming narrow or blocked again.
Some stents are coated with medicine that is slowly and continuously released into the artery. They are called drug-eluting stents. The medicine helps prevent scar tissue from blocking the artery following angioplasty.
For more details about angiography, angioplasty, and stent placement, go to “What To Expect During Coronary Angioplasty.”
Clinical trials are research studies that explore whether a medical strategy, treatment, or device is safe and effective for humans. To find clinical trials that are currently underway for Coronary Angioplasty, visit www.clinicaltrials.gov.
When a heart attack happens, any delays in treatment can be deadly.
Knowing the warning symptoms of a heart attack and how to take action can save your life or someone else’s.
The NHLBI has created a new series of informative, easy-to-read heart attack materials to help the public better understand the facts about heart attacks and how to act fast to save a life.
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“Don’t Take a Chance With a Heart Attack: Know the Facts and Act Fast” (also available in Spanish)
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