Coronary Angioplasty

When one or more of your arteries (the vessels that carry blood away from your heart) has a narrowing or blockage, your doctor may recommend a coronary angioplasty.

The interventional cardiology team Northwest Regional Heart and Vascular has performed thousands of these routine procedures in Portland and helped many patients get back to normal heart function and regular routines in no time at all.

What is a coronary angioplasty?

It is a cardiac procedure that uses a tiny balloon to open up a narrow or blocked heart artery. By physically widening the artery, normal blood flow is quickly restored.

What causes a blocked artery?

Arteries are an eighth of an inch in diameter and over time, plaque (such as cholesterol) can build up and restrict blood flow, starving the body of oxygen-rich blood.

When this happens, the arteries constrict or get blocked and require a medical intervention to remove the blockage.

How does the coronary angioplasty procedure work?

The entire procedure usually takes 45 minutes to an hour. Most patients feel no pain with only slight discomfort for a few seconds in their chest area. During an angioplasty, a tiny balloon is placed in the blocked artery using cardiac catheterization (guiding a thin tube directly to the blockage via a blood vessel in the groin).

  • Patients begin in the cardiac catheterization lab where they are sedated prior to commencing angioplasty.
  • A special dye is injected through the catheter and into the arteries to make the blood vessels visible on an x-ray and help the cardiologist(s) see the blockage.
  • Once the balloon is perfectly positioned in the affected artery, it is inflated with a high amount of pressure to widen the narrow or blocked artery by crushing the blockage against the artery walls.
  • Once the blockage is removed and the artery is widened, a stent (a small, wire mesh tube about the size of a ballpoint pen spring) is inserted into the artery using the catheter to help keep the artery open.
  • The role of the stent is to reduce the chance of that artery becoming restricted in the future. In addition, some stents may be coated with medication to help keep the artery wide and open.

What are the symptoms of a blocked artery?

  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Heart palpitations
  • Weakness/dizziness
  • Excessive sweating
  • Tightening of the chest
  • Intense chest pain (also called angina)

Are you a candidate for coronary angioplasty?

If you are having any of the symptoms listed above, it is advisable to seek medical attention from a heart specialist. At Northwest Regional Heart and Vascular, we will treat your symptoms and evaluate your overall heart and medical health in order to determine if coronary angioplasty is right for you .

As always, if you feel like you are having a heart attack or acute medical emergency, always call 911.

To learn more and schedule an appointment in Portland,
call (503) 257-0959.