Percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI)

Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI), also called angioplasty treats blockages within your coronary arteries and restores blood flow to your heart

Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI), also called angioplasty treats blockages within your coronary arteries and restores blood flow to your heart

Percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), also called angioplasty, is a procedure which treats blockages within the coronary arteries and improves blood flow to the heart.

  • PCI involves stretching any narrowed areas of the coronary arteries using a balloon which is attached to a thin catheter (tube). Like an angiogram, the catheter is inserted, under local anaesthetic, into a main artery in the upper leg or lower arm and then passed gently into the aorta (the large artery which supplies the heart muscle with its own blood supply).
  • The balloon, at the tip of the catheter, is blown up at the narrowed area(s) of the artery; this forces the artery open and widens it.
  • In the majority of cases a metal stent will also be placed in the artery. A stent is a cylinder of metal mesh which acts like a scaffold to keep the artery open and prevent the artery narrowing again. The artery heals around the stent making it a permanent part of the artery. You will not be aware that it is there.
  • If you have a stent, you will need to take certain antiplatelet drugs to help reduce the risk of blood clots forming around the stent.
  • Sometimes stents can be used which slowly release drugs, directly to the narrowed area, to help prevent the problem recurring. These are called drug-eluting stents and are used when the risk of re-narrowing is high.
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