Coronary angioplasty greatly increases blood flow through the previously narrowed or blocked coronary artery. Your chest pain should decrease, and you may be better able to exercise.

Having angioplasty and stenting doesn't mean your heart disease goes away. You'll need to continue healthy lifestyle habits and take medications as prescribed by your doctor. If your symptoms return, such as chest pain or shortness of breath, or if other symptoms similar to those you had before your procedure occur, contact your doctor. If you have chest pain at rest or pain that doesn't respond to nitroglycerin, call 911 or emergency medical help.

To keep your heart healthy after angioplasty, you should:

  • Quit smoking
  • Lower your cholesterol levels
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Control other conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure
  • Get regular exercise

Successful angioplasty also means you might not have to undergo a surgical procedure called coronary artery bypass surgery. In a bypass, an artery or a vein is removed from a different part of your body and sewn to the surface of your heart to take over for the blocked coronary artery. This surgery requires an incision in the chest. Recovery from bypass surgery is usually longer and more uncomfortable.

If you have many blockages or narrowing of the main artery leading to the heart, reduced heart function, or diabetes, your doctor may recommend bypass surgery instead of angioplasty and stent placement. In addition, some blockages may be better treated with bypass surgery.

Feb. 13, 2014