During the procedure
This procedure is usually performed by a cardiologist in a hospital setting under local anesthesia (i.e., you will be awake during the angioplasty). The entire procedure often takes anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours, depending on how many blocked arteries you have.
You will have an intravenous (IV) in your arm to give you fluids and medications during the angioplasty. You may be given pain and anticlotting medications before the procedure. Electrodes will be put on your chest to monitor your heart.
After you are given a local anesthetic, your doctor will make a very small incision in your groin to allow a catheter attached to the balloon to enter the artery. When the catheter is inserted, you may feel pressure in your groin. A small amount of dye is injected through the catheter to help your doctor guide the catheter and locate the clogged artery using live X-ray.
After your doctor locates the blockage, the balloon will be inflated to open the clogged artery. When the balloon is inflated, you may feel chest pain. It may be kept there for a few minutes to stretch the artery wall before it is removed. After the artery is widened, a collapsed stent may be inserted along with the balloon. Once the stent is opened by the inflated balloon, it will stay in place to keep the artery open. The balloon will then be collapsed and removed.
After the procedure
You will likely stay in the hospital for 1 to 2 days and have your heart condition monitored. Your doctor may also prescribe you medications to prevent blood clots and relax the arteries in your heart. You should be able to return to your normal daily activities in one week.
Once you return home, be sure to drink plenty of water to wash out the contrast dye used. You should also refrain from intense exercise and heavy lifting for a few days.
To maintain the positive results from the procedure, you should commit to positive lifestyle changes such as quit smoking, maintain a healthy wait, exercise regularly, and lower your cholesterol level.