Why do I need angioplasty?

When performing an angiogram (or sometimes a cardiac CT) your cardiologist has seen narrowings in the coronary arteries which are causing your symptoms of angina or breathlessness.

During angioplasty your cardiologist will insert stents at the narrowings which will hold the artery open and allow normal blood flow to your heart muscle.

What are the risks of having angioplasty?

Risks include: Bleeding / bruising at the access site (where the catheters go in to reach your heart), injury to artery (dissection), stroke, heart attack and death. Complications vary by a patient-to-patient basis, some cases may be higher risk than others, but the overall risk is around 1 in 200 patients having a major complication.

Can I choose if they go in my wrist or groin artery?

Patient choice is very important to us at the Lancashire Cardiac Centre and if you have a preference where the doctor uses to gain access for your angiogram let them know. Your doctor will consider your medical history, along with the type of procedure you are having and will access your pulses at the wrist and groin. If they feel your preference is not advisable they will explain why and offer the alternatives.

What are the other options to having angioplasty?

There are 3 possible outcomes following an angiogram that shows disease in your arteries; medical treatment (tablets), angioplasty or coronary artery bypass grafts.

Your doctor will discuss with you following your angiogram what they feel are the best options for you. Small amounts of narrowings may only require medication, narrowings which are limiting blood flow may require stents (angioplasty) and multiple narrowings in multiple arteries may require coronary artery bypass grafts (surgery).

Please discuss any questions or worries regarding your options with the cardiology doctors (and surgeons if you are referred to them).

Who will perform my angioplasty?

Your angiogram will be performed by your consultant cardiologists along with either a cardiology registrars or cardiology nurse to help in the procedure.

How long will my angioplasty take?

Angioplasty times vary depending on how much disease is in the arteries and how many arteries are involved.

Typically 1 hour is quoted but don’t worry if it is longer or shorter, it doesn’t mean there is a problem. Your cardiologist will explain if it is taking longer than expected and why. If you are uncomfortable tell the doctor and a nurse may be able to give sedation or pain relief to relax you.

How long will the stents last?

Stents are only a recent entry to cardiology compared to coronary artery bypass grafts, but they have been seen to last at least as long as bypass grafts (typically 10 years).

To help them last as long as possible it is important you keep taking the medication prescribed by your cardiology doctor, smokers should quit and diet and activity should be looked at (the cardiac rehabilitation team should be able to help you here).