Coronary angioplasty and stent
Prior to having a coronary angioplasty a coronary angiogram is required.
This technique was invented in 1977 by Dr Andreas Gruntzig. It involves passing a wire and small balloon across a narrowing (stenosis) or blockage in a coronary artery. The atheroma is squashed to widen the channel in the artery in order to allow more blood to pass.
Over the last thirty years, the technology has changed dramatically. Coronary stents were developed to prevent the artery from re-narrowing (restenosis). Stents are metal supports that once placed remain in the artery. Drug coated stents have reduced the risk of restenosis even further.
At the end of the angioplasty, the tube is removed from the artery. A compression band is applied to the wrist or a plug may be placed in the groin to seal the artery.
Prior to angioplasty tablets are taken to prevent the artery from blocking. These are usually aspirin as well as clopidogrel or prasugrel. These will need to be taken for one year. Other tablets will also continue.
The risk of major complications or mortality from angioplasty is less than 1%