Coronary artery disease (a build up of fatty deposits and abnormal cells along the inside walls of the coronary arteries) can cause chest pains/angina, shortness of breath and even heart attacks.
The coronary angioplasty procedure is similar to an angiogram - they are both done under local anaesthetic with mild sedation. A small tube called a sheath is inserted into the femoral artery at the groin or the artery of the arm. This is how all the equipment enters the body.
With angioplasty and stent insertion, work is done inside the artery to reduce the narrowed sections. This is done with long tubes called catheters. They are threaded into the coronary artery containing the blockage. The catheter has a balloon on the end. When it is inflated in the artery it compresses the blockage. This reduces the blockage and opens up the flow of blood.
Usually, an expandable metal stent is implanted in the blockage, using the balloon catheter. The stent acts like a scaffolding device, providing support to the artery. This often provides a better opening than using the angioplasty balloon alone.
The procedure normally takes one to two hours and you are usually in hospital overnight. Recovery is quick, because of the use of local anaesthetic. Most people return to normal activities within 7 – 10 days.