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Getting an Angioplasty Surgery? Here's What You Need to Know

Getting an Angioplasty Surgery? Here's What You Need to Know

The heart is an essential part of the human body. As such, any medical procedure or surgery involving it may cause one to be nervous and concerned. One such procedure is angioplasty surgery. Let’s read up on it to help allay our fears and anxieties.

What is angioplasty surgery?

Angioplasty surgery is a medical procedure that doctors recommend when your coronary arteries are narrow or become blocked. The coronary arteries are the main blood vessels that deliver blood to the heart so it is important that they are always fully functioning.

Historically, angioplasties were performed using a balloon to widen blocked or narrowed coronary arteries. Nowadays, angioplasty surgery usually involves using a short-wire mesh tube called a stent, and inserting it into the artery. This stent is then left in place, allowing blood to flow freely through the arteries.

Why do we need it?

Our hearts need a constant supply of blood so it can run properly. Because of this, our coronary arteries are very important because they are responsible for supplying blood to our heart.

As we get older, our coronary arteries can narrow or harden. This is commonly referred to as atherosclerosis. Chest pain or angina can occur when blood flow to our hearts is insufficient. When medication proves to be ineffective in treating this, your doctor will recommend you undergo angioplasty surgery. In extreme cases, such as a heart attack, doctors can also recommend angioplasty surgery as an emergency treatment.

How does it work?

A local anaesthetic is used to carry out an angioplasty surgery. This means that you will be awake during the entire procedure. Through an incision in your wrist, groin, or arm, a tube called a catheter will be inserted. This tube will then be led to the artery using an x-ray video. When the tube is in position, a thin wire is then guided inside the tube, delivering a small balloon within the affected artery. This balloon will then be inflated to widen the artery. As the balloon inflates, any built-up fatty deposits are crushed, allowing more blood to flow through once the balloon deflates.

Modern angioplasty surgery will involve the use of a stent. The stent will be placed around the balloon before its insertion. As the balloon inflates, the stent does as well. The stent will remain in place within the artery as the balloon deflates and is removed, ensuring adequate blood flow to the heart.

Types of Heart Attacks: Risk Factors, Causes, and Prevention

Risks and complications

Here are some risks and complications associated with angioplasty surgery:

Your arteries may narrow again

When using stents, there is a small chance that the coronary arteries may become clogged again.

Blood clots

Blood clots can form even after the procedure has finished. These clots can close the artery and cause a heart attack.


You may bleed during the insertion of the catheter. Normally this only causes a small bruise. In some cases, it may require surgery or blood transfusion.

Heart attack

In rare instances, you might suffer a heart attack during the procedure.

Coronary artery damage

Your coronary artery may tear or rupture while undergoing the procedure requiring emergency bypass surgery.

Kidney problems

The procedure may cause kidney damage.


A stroke can occur during the procedure if the plaques break loose. Blood clots can form and travel to the brain. While extremely rare, blood thinners are taken to further reduce the risk of a stroke occurring.

Abnormal heart rhythm

The heart might beat abnormally during the procedure. These problems are usually temporary. However, sometimes long-term management is required, such as pacemakers or appropriate medications.

Is it safe?

Angioplasties are one of the most common procedures associated with the heart. Doctors often regard it as minimally invasive and is generally safe for the majority of people.

Key Takeaway

Angioplasties are one of the most common treatment procedures that doctors recommend for the heart. Doctors will recommend the procedure if they find that your coronary arteries are narrow or clogged. Angioplasties are generally safe and ensure that your heart receives adequate blood flow.

Learn more about Medical Procedures and Surgeries here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Overview: Coronary Angioplasty and Stent Insertion, https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronary-angioplasty/

Accessed March 26, 2021


Coronary Angioplasty and Stents, https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/coronary-angioplasty/about/pac-20384761

Accessed March 26, 2021


Angioplasty and Stent Treatment for the Heart, https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/treatment-tests-and-therapies/angioplasty-and-stent-placement-for-the-heart

Accessed March 26, 2021


Angioplasty, https://medlineplus.gov/angioplasty.html#:~:text=Angioplasty%20is%20a%20procedure%20to,tiny%20balloon%20on%20the%20end

Accessed March 26, 2021


Understanding Angioplasty: When You Need It and When You May Not, https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/understanding-angioplasty-when-you-need-it-and-when-you-may-not

Accessed March 26, 2021

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Written by Sky Abundo Updated Jun 15, 2021
Fact Checked by Hello Doctor Medical Panel