Before a scheduled angioplasty, your doctor will review your medical history and do a physical exam. You'll also have an imaging test called a coronary angiogram to see if your blockages can be treated with angioplasty. A coronary angiogram helps doctors determine if the arteries to your heart are narrowed or blocked. Liquid dye is injected into the arteries of your heart through a catheter — a long, thin tube that's fed through an artery from your groin, arm or wrist to arteries in your heart. As the dye fills your arteries, they become visible on X-ray and video, so your doctor can see where your arteries are blocked. If your doctor finds a blockage during your coronary angiogram, it's possible he or she may decide to perform angioplasty and stenting immediately after the angiogram while your heart is still catheterized.
You'll receive instructions about eating or drinking before angioplasty. Typically, you have to stop eating or drinking six to eight hours before the procedure is scheduled. Your preparation may be different if you're already staying at the hospital before your procedure.
Whether the angioplasty is pre-scheduled or done as an emergency, you'll likely have some routine tests first, including a chest X-ray, electrocardiogram and blood tests.
The night before your procedure, you should:
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- Follow your doctor's instructions about adjusting your current medications before angioplasty. Your doctor may instruct you to stop taking certain medications before angioplasty, such as certain diabetes medications.
- Gather all of your medications to take to the hospital with you, including nitroglycerin, if you take it.
- Take approved medications with only small sips of water.
- Arrange for transportation home. Angioplasty usually requires an overnight hospital stay, and you won't be able to drive yourself home the next day.
- Angioplasty. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/angioplasty/printall-index.html. Accessed July 9, 2013.
- Longo DL, et al. Harrison's Online. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=4. Accessed July 9, 2013.
- Levine GN, et al. 2011 ACCF/AHA/SCAI Guideline for percutaneous coronary intervention: A report of the American College of Cardiology Foundation/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines and the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions. Circulation. 2011;124:e574.
- Cardiac procedures and surgeries. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HeartAttack/PreventionTreatmentofHeartAttack/Cardiac-Procedures-and-Surgeries_UCM_303939_Article.jsp. Accessed July 9, 2013.
- Carrozza JP, et al. Periprocedural complications of percutaneous coronary intervention. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed July 11, 2013.