7 Tips to Prepare for Coronary Angioplasty

  • Close-up of Caucasian male doctor's hand holding stent for coronary intervention or angioplasty
    Coronary Angioplasty Procedure
    A coronary angioplasty procedure is an atherosclerosis treatment. It opens blocked or narrowed coronary arteries to restore blood flow to the heart muscle. A coronary angioplasty with stent places a small mesh tube to keep the artery open. It is a type of heart catheterization procedure known as a percutaneous coronary intervention. While it isn’t major heart surgery, it does involve an incision to insert the catheter in an arm or leg. It also usually means an overnight hospital stay and a short recovery period. Here are some tips to prepare for the procedure.

  • Man smoking
    1. Stop smoking.
    If you smoke, now is the time to put it behind you. A recent study found people who quit smoking had better outcomes after angioplasty. A year after the procedure, they had less chest pain than those who continued to smoke. Try to stop before your angioplasty. It will also help your body heal faster afterwards. Then, celebrate your success and quit smoking for good!

  • Middle aged Caucasian couple looking at medicine bottle while on phone
    2. Talk about your medicines.
    Before your angioplasty, talk with your doctor about all your medicines. In addition to your prescriptions, be sure to tell your doctor about all over-the-counter drugs, herbal treatments, and supplements. Your doctor may want you to stop some of these medicines before the procedure. You may need to stop some of them for several days beforehand. Typically, this includes anticoagulants and diabetes medicines containing metformin. Follow your doctor’s instructions for which medicines to take and which ones to stop.

  • Middle aged African American woman smiling and laughing with cup of coffee
    3. Follow food and drink restrictions.
    Your care team will give you instructions for eating and drinking before your angioplasty. Usually, you will not eat or drink anything for 6 to 8 hours before the procedure. If your angioplasty is in the morning, this may mean nothing after midnight. Eating or drinking too close to your procedure time may require cancelling and rescheduling it. This is for your safety to avoid complications with anesthesia. Ask your care team about taking medicines the morning of your procedure. If there are medicines you need to take, it is usually okay with sips of water.

  • Cropped image of Caucasian woman writing in notebook on desk
    4. Make a list of your medicines and allergies.
    On the day of your angioplasty, your care team will review your medical history again. It helps to have a current list of your medicines and allergies. The team will want to know the exact doses of your medicines. Your doctor may decide to continue your current doses or adjust them afterwards. If you forget to prepare this list ahead of time, bring your medicine bottles with you the day of the procedure.

  • Rear view of middle aged Caucasian couple in car
    5. Arrange a ride home.
    You won’t be able to drive yourself home after angioplasty. In most cases, people stay overnight in the hospital after the procedure. You will need a driver at least 18 years of age to take you home the next day. If you are going home the same day, the adult driver will need to be with you at the time of your procedure. It may be necessary to reschedule the angioplasty if you don’t have an adult to drive you home from an outpatient procedure. Taxis and rideshare services are not acceptable alternatives.

  • Women in waiting room of radiology department for x-ray or ultrasound
    6. Be prepared to wait.
    It’s common to have testing right before an angioplasty. This may include a chest X-ray, EKG (electrocardiogram), and blood work. Your doctor will need to review the results before proceeding with the angioplasty. It can take some time to get these test results back. So, don’t be surprised if you have to wait. Once the procedure starts, it takes about an hour.

  • Older Caucasian female patient in hospital gown with smiling African American female doctor
    7. Do your best to relax.
    Preparing for an angioplasty can be stressful. Many people wonder if coronary angioplasty is painful. Your doctor will numb the catheter insertion area before making an incision. And the procedure itself should not be painful. You may have moderate sedation or general anesthesia for the procedure. So, it’s likely you won’t remember much about it. Before the procedure, your care team will give you medicine to help you relax. If you are feeling especially anxious, let your care team know so they can help put you at ease.

7 Tips to Prepare for a Coronary Angioplasty Procedure

About The Author

Sarah Lewis is a pharmacist and a medical writer with over 25 years of experience in various areas of pharmacy practice. Sarah holds a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy degree from West Virginia University and a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Massachusetts College of Pharmacy. She completed Pharmacy Practice Residency training at the University of Pittsburgh/VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System. 
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  7. Jang JS, Buchanan DM1 Gosch KL, et al. Association of smoking status with health-related outcomes after percutaneous coronary intervention. Circ Cardiovasc Interv. 2015 May;8(5).
  8. Preparing for a Cardiac Catheterization. Cedars-Sinai. https://www.cedars-sinai.org/programs/heart/resources/preparing-for-cardiac-procedures-and-studies/cardiac-catheterization.html
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Last Review Date: 2019 Mar 29
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