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What is an Angioplasty Procedure?

Coronary Angioplasty is a procedure that opens blocked arteries and allows blood to flow to your heart muscle. The procedure is performed by an interventional cardiologist, a doctor who specializes in performing procedures for heart problems.




Angioplasty is not surgery.

It is a procedure which is used to open a clogged coronary artery by inflating a tiny balloon in it.
Each year more than a million people in the United States have coronary angioplasty.

The arteries that bring blood to the heart muscle (coronary arteries) can become clogged by plaque (a buildup of fat, cholesterol and other substances). This can slow or stop blood flow through the heart’s blood vessels, leading to chest pain or a heart attack. Increasing blood flow to the heart muscle can relieve chest pain and reduce the risk of heart attack. You may be a good candidate for an angioplasty if:

  • Your blockage is small
  • Your blockage can be reached by angioplasty
  • The artery affected isn’t the main vessel supplying blood to the left side of your heart
  • You don’t have heart failure

If the main artery supplying the left side of your heart is narrowed, if your heart muscle is weak or if you have small, diffusely diseased blood vessels, then coronary artery bypass surgery (CABG) may be a better option. In addition, if you have diabetes and multiple blockages, your doctor may suggest coronary artery bypass surgery. The decision of angioplasty versus bypass surgery will depend on the details of your heart disease and overall medical condition.



  • General anesthesia is not needed, so you are awake during the procedure.
  • You lie on a bed in a catheterisation room. An X-ray machine is mounted above the bed.
  • A thin, flexible 'guide' tube (catheter) is inserted through a wide needle or small cut in the skin into a blood vessel in the groin or arm.
  • Local anesthetic is injected into the skin above the blood vessel. It should not hurt when the catheter is passed into the blood vessel. The doctor gently pushes the catheter up the blood vessel towards the heart.
  • Low-dose X-rays are used to monitor the progress of the catheter tip which is gently manipulated into the correct position. You may be able to see the progress of the catheter on the X-ray monitor.
  • The tip of the catheter is pushed inside a heart (coronary) artery down to where there is a narrowed section caused by the fatty patches, or 'plaques', (atheroma).
  • A second thinner 'balloon catheter' is then passed down the 'guide' catheter. There is a balloon and a small tube (a stent) at the tip of the balloon catheter.
  • The balloon is blown up for 30-60 seconds. This squashes the atheroma and widens the narrowed artery. When the balloon is blown up it stops the blood flow. Therefore, you may have an angina-like pain for a short time. However, this soon goes after the balloon is let down.
  • Usually, a stent is left in the widened section. The stent is like a wire mesh tube which gives support to the artery and helps to keep the artery widened. The stent looks like a very tiny coil of wire mesh.
  • The 'collapsed' stent covers the balloon and is opened as the balloon is blown upStents can be coated with medication that’s slowly released to help prevent arteries from re-clogging. These coated stents are called “drug-eluting” stents, in contrast to noncoated versions, which are called “bare-metal” stents. People who are known to have an allergy to nickel may need a nickel-free stent.

The procedure may be repeated for one or more other narrowed sections within the coronary arteries. You cannot feel the catheter inside the blood vessels. You may feel an occasional missed or extra heartbeat during the procedure. This is normal and of little concern.

During the procedure your heartbeat is monitored by electrodes placed on your chest which provide a tracing on an electrocardiograph (ECG) machine. Sometimes a sedative is given before the test if you are anxious.

The entire angioplasty procedure can take 30 minutes to several hours.

What about alternatives to Angioplasty?

If the main artery supplying the left side of your heart is narrowed, if your heart muscle is weak or if you have small, diffusely diseased blood vessels, then coronary artery bypass surgery (CABG) may be a better option. In addition, if you have diabetes and multiple blockages, your doctor may suggest coronary artery bypass surgery. The decision of angioplasty versus bypass surgery will depend on the details of your heart disease and overall medical condition.



Before traveling to Cyprus, as part of your preparation for your Angioplasty procedure we require detailed medical information in the form of a medical questionnaire, ECG, Pulmonary tests and blood work. In some cases an Angiogram is required. All of this information will allow the doctors that we work with to determine your eligibility for the procedure.

Your doctor will give you specific instructions about any activity restrictions you should follow before the procedure.

Bring a complete list of your current medications (including over-the-counter drugs, vitamins and herbal supplements), allergies, your medical records and any health insurance information.

Ten days prior to your arrival in Cyprus, you will receive all the necessary pre procedure instructions, to prepare yourself both physically and mentally.

Upon arriving in Cyprus, as part of the pre-procedure tests done at our partner hospitals you will again receive chest X-rays, blood tests, an electrocardiogram and a coronary angiogram, which is a special type of X-ray procedure that uses dye to visualize the arteries that feed your heart.

Your doctor will also go through you medical issues with you and discuss your procedure and answer any questions at this time.

2 days before

 If you take any 'blood-thinning' medicine such as warfarin or another anticoagulant, you will need to stop this for 2-3 days before the test (to prevent excessive bleeding from the site of the thin, flexible tube (catheter) insertion).

If you take insulin or medicines for diabetes, you may need to alter the timing of when you take these. Some medicines may need to be stopped for 48 hours. Your doctor should clarify this with you.

Preparation for the hospital

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you pack and prepare for the hospital and recuperation:

Getting dressed in the morning helps you feel better, so be sure to bring some comfortable clothing to the hospital:

  • Loose shorts or pants
  • Loose tops or T-shirts
  • Underwear and socks
  • Short robe or pajamas
  • Toiletries

Morning of the procedure

On the day of your procedure, your designated Salus Patient Concierge along with a nurse may talk with you and your loved ones. They shall tell you what to expect. You will most likely feel a little nervous before, so the Salus team and the hospital staff will do all they can to answer your questions and help you relax.

Make sure all your medicines in their original containers with you to the hospital.

You may be asked to stop eating and drinking for a few hours before the procedure.

You should leave jewelry, watches, money and other valuables with the person who accompanies you or with our staff member who will place them in our safe.

Proceed with your routine morning care:

  • If you bathe or take a shower, wash from your neck down with the anti-bacterial soap provided.
  • To help prevent infection, any hair in an incision area may be shaved.
  • Women should not wear any makeup and must remove any nail polish.

When it is time for you to have your procedure, your family/ companion will be asked to wait in the waiting area. Your doctor will talk to your family/ companion there after your procedure.

You will have to sign a consent form at some point before the test to confirm that you understand the procedure, understand the possible complications and agree to the procedure being done.



After the Angioplasty, you will be moved to the recovery unit, where your heart rate and blood pressure will be monitored.

You may have pain in your groin area, arm, or wrist. This is from the catheter (flexible tube) that was inserted to do the procedure.

You may also have some bruising around and below the incision.

The chest pain and shortness of breath you likely had before the procedure should be much better now.

In general, people who have angioplasty can walk around within 6 hours after the procedure.

If the doctor entered the catheter in through your groin:

  • Walking short distances on a flat surface is okay.
  • Limit going up and down stairs to around 2 times a day for the first 2 to 3 days

If the doctor put the catheter in your arm or wrist:

  • Do NOT lift anything heavier than 10 pounds (a little more than a gallon of milk) with the arm that had the catheter.
  • Do NOT do any heavy pushing or pulling with that arm.

Hospital discharge and home instructions

Before leaving the hospital, our doctor and staff will help you adjust to recovery in every way possible. You will receive specific instructions and precautions from your doctor and nursing staff and they will show you safe techniques of simple activities like getting in and out of bed, bathing, going to the bathroom, managing steps at home and getting in and out of a car.

You will be able to leave the hospital when you are:

  • Able to eat a regular diet and drink fluids
  • Passing gas or you have had a bowel movement
  • Passing urine
  • Not having a fever or other signs of infection
  • Walk for short distances

You will remain hospitalized from 2 to 5 days while your heart is monitored and your vital signs are checked frequently. The hospital stay in our partner hospitals gives your doctor adequate time to monitor your recovery.



These guidelines give you an overview of what you may expect as part of your care after you leave the hospital. Be sure to follow your doctor’s discharge instructions if they are different from what is listed here.

For a catheter in your groin, arm, or wrist:

  • Avoid sexual activity for 5 days. Ask your doctor when it will be okay to start again.
  • Do NOT take a bath or swim for the first week. You may take showers, but make sure the area where the catheter was inserted does not get wet for the first 24 to 48 hours.
  • If your incision bleeds or swells up, lie down and put pressure on it for 30 minutes. Your doctor or nurse will tell you how often to change your dressing.
  • Do NOT do yard work, drive, squat, carry heavy objects, or play sports for at least 2 days, or until your doctor tells you it is safe.
  • You should be able to return to work in 2 to 3 days if you do not do heavy work.
  • Your doctor will likely prescribe medications (anticoagulants) to prevent blood clots, relax your arteries and protect against coronary spasms.



After release from the hospital, the patient may experience side effects such as:

  • Fatigue, mood swings, feelings of depression, difficulty sleeping
  • You may have pain in your groin area, arm, or wrist. This is from the catheter (flexible tube) that was inserted to do the procedure.
  • You may also have some bruising around and below the incision.

Many of these side effects usually disappear in less than 1 week

Patients are often advised to eat less fat and cholesterol and to walk or do other physical activity to help regain strength.

Doctors also often recommend following a home routine of increasing activity- doing light housework, going out, visiting friends, climbing stairs. The goal is to return to a normal, active lifestyle.

Most people with sedentary office jobs can return to work in 1 week. Those with physically demanding jobs will have to wait longer.

Physical Activities

You may do light, quick activities where your arms are above your shoulders, such as brushing your hair. But do not do any activities where your arms are above shoulder level for a long time, such as washing a window or dusting a high shelf. Do not do any activity that causes pain or pulling across your chest.

To get the most out of your day, plan to do the most important activities first. Don't try to do everything at once, and schedule unfinished activities for another day. Make sure that you get plenty of rest in between activities.

Climbing Stairs and Steps

Unless restricted by your doctor, it's okay for you to climb stairs and steps. If you need to, stop and rest before you finish walking up or down a full flight.


Fatigue is probably the number one patient complaint following any heart procedure. Fatigue results from an extended lack of sleep while in the hospital, energy used by your body to heal its wounds, and energy used to fight off pain. To combat fatigue, listen to what your body is telling you. Space your activities to allow for rest periods. Take plenty of naps, walk regularly, eat well, and use your pain medication as needed. It's important that you rest and get a good night's sleep. Even if it's early in the night, if you feel tired, go to bed.

Driving and Riding in a Car

You should not drive for 1 week from the date of your procedure.


Delay vacations or extended trips away from home for approximately 2-3 weeks, or until after the first post operative visit with your surgeon. Avoid air travel for two weeks from the date of your discharge. This restriction is designed to prevent you from being too far away from your surgeon should a problem arise.


You may resume sexual activity after 1 week of your procedure.


Proper exercise will help your healing and recovery, as well as increase your stamina, maintain your ideal weight by burning calories, and lower stress in your everyday life.

Tips for exercising:

  • Check with your doctor or cardiac rehabilitation specialist regarding exercises that are safe for you to do immediately after the procedure and in the long term.
  • Make your exercises a regular/daily routine. Try to walk every day and gradually increase your distance over time.
  • Instead of going for a straight distance, you may want to walk around your block several times so that you are always close to home.
  • Don't worry about how fast you are walking, but concentrate on how much you are walking.
  • Take someone with you the first few times you walk.
  • Always wear comfortable clothes and shoes.
  • Don't exercise if the weather is bad, or if it's too cold or too warm outside. Because of the controlled temperature, an indoor shopping mall is a good place to walk.

Make sure you are not exercising too hard. Stop if you are exhausted, short of breath, feel dizzy, or have discomfort in your chest. Call your doctor if these symptoms persist and you are not able to do your regular exercises.



Along with exercise, eating healthy will speed up your recovery and healing. If your appetite is poor, try to eat smaller but more frequent meals.

Depending on your condition, your doctor or dietician may put you on a special diet. For example, patients with heart failure must follow a 2,000 mg low-sodium diet. Diabetic patients must follow a low-sugar, low-fat diet.

Tips to healthy eating:

  • Eat a variety of healthy foods.
  • Choose foods low in fat and cholesterol.
  • Eat less salt or sodium.
  • Cut back on sugar and sweets.
  • Eat more carbohydrates (potatoes, rice, pasta, vegetables) and fiber ("roughage").
  • Limit portion sizes.

Poor Appetite and Nausea

Many patients lose weight in the postoperative period. They complain of lack of appetite and mild nausea. Certain medications such as pain pills may cause nausea. Try eating small frequent amounts of food, and take medications on a full stomach unless otherwise directed. If you continue to experience nausea or lack of appetite, call your primary physician.


Constipation is due to inactivity, limited fluid intake and lack of dietary fiber. It is aggravated by medications such as pain pills and iron. Eating plenty of fiber and fresh fruits, drinking 6-8 glasses of water daily and using your prescribed stool softener (Colace) as instructed can usually relieve constipation. If this does not work, Milk of Magnesia or Dulcolax may be helpful. Avoid Milk of Magnesia if you have kidney problems.

Caloric Restriction

Your total calories may be changed to increase, decrease, or maintain your weight as necessary. Being overweight increases the work of the heart. Your drug therapy may cause you to be hungry, you may eat more, and you may then gain weight. It is, therefore, very important that you pay attention to the total amount of food you take in. In addition to adding to the work of your heart, being overweight is associated with high levels of Triglycerides (fats) in the blood stream. Having a lot of fats in your blood increases the possibility of having the blood vessels of your heart become thickened. This will be described in more detail in the section on cholesterol and fats that follows.

Cholesterol and Saturated Fat Restriction

Cholesterol is a necessary fatty substance found in the body and many animal foods. Fats are concentrated sources of energy which occur in three forms: polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, and saturated. People who have large amounts of cholesterol and saturated fats in their blood are at increased risk of having thickening of their blood vessels throughout their bodies. This is because saturated fats and cholesterol in your blood will gather along the walls of your blood vessels causing them to narrow. If this narrowing becomes severe in the blood vessels of your heart, the blood supply to your heart will not get enough oxygen, and the cells of your heart will die. This is called "Coronary Artery Disease."

In addition to your diet, your medications may also increase the level of fats in your blood. Thus, in order to prevent coronary artery disease, your overall fat intake must be restricted after the procedure. Generally, your overall fat intake should not be more than 30% of your total calories each day. Increasing the proportion of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat in your diet and decreasing your total saturated fat intake to less than 10% of your total fat intake will actually help to lower cholesterol and saturated fat levels in your blood. The aim of this diet is to keep the levels of fats in your blood within normal limits.

Foods high in cholesterol & saturated fats

  • Animal products : Liver and organ meats, luncheon meats like liverwurst & salami, other meats, egg yolks, whole milk, butter, cream, and whole milk cheeses.
  • Vegetables high in saturated fats : Coconut, palm, and cocoa.
  • Other : Fried foods.

Note :Instead of frying your foods, try to bake, boil, or steam when preparing foods.

Foods high in monosaturated and polyunsaturated fats

  • Meats and other protein foods : Lean meats, low fat dairy products, and fatty fish (salmon, tuna, trout, bluefish).
  • Vegetable fats : Olive oil, corn oil, soybean oil, sesame oil, sunflower oil, and tub margarine.

Concentrated Carbohydrate Restrictions

You may be asked to cut down on the amount of sugar and concentrated sweets in your diet as well. Carbohydrates not only add to calories, but large amounts may contribute to an increase in the Triglycerides on the blood.

Fluid and Sodium Restriction

  • Salt is made up of two minerals - Sodium (Na+) and Chloride (C). It is the sodium portion of salt that we are concerned with in your diet. Sodium must be restricted in your diet because it causes your body to hold fluids.
  • You must also control your sodium and fluid intake since Prednisone causes your body to hold both of these. The result of holding fluid and sodium is that extra fluid builds up in your veins and arteries. To avoid this fluid and sodium build up, you should cut down on both.
  • To cut down on fluids, choose solid foods instead of liquids; for example, eat fruit instead of drinking juice. To cut down on salt, your doctor may prescribe a sodium-restricted diet for you. Your diet order may read: "No added Salt" or 3 to 4 gram Na+ diet. The doctor may also prescribe a water pill to help get the sodium and fluid out of your system.

Meat and Other Protein Foods

Ham, Canadian bacon, bacon, luncheon meats, frankfurters, sausages, scrapple, pepperoni, dried beef, chipped beef, corned beef, canned meats, pastrami, canned fish, sardines, herring, lox, anchovies, smoked salmon, caviar, cheese, regular peanut butter, and frozen TV dinners.


Sauerkraut or other vegetables prepared in brine, olives, pickles, relish, vegetables packed with sauces or seasonings, salted mixed vegetable juice (V-8), regular tomato juice, regular spaghetti sauce, tomato sauce or tomato paste, frozen peas, and lima beans.

Breads & Cereals : Bread and rolls with salt toppings, corn chips, potato chips, salted pretzels, salted popcorn, and other salted snack foods.

Fats: Bacon fat, salt pork, olives, salted nuts, party spreads and dips.

Soups: Canned broth soups, commercially prepared stews, bouillon cubes, and instant or dried soups.

Other : Be careful of monosodium glutamate (MSG) used in Chinese food. When you order Chinese food, you can request that it be prepared without MSG.

Note: You should check with your doctor or dietician before using salt or salt substitutes.



Your medicines: Take the medicines you were taking before procedure, unless your surgeon has made a change.

Your doctor will likely prescribe medications (anticoagulants) to prevent blood clots, relax your arteries and protect against coronary spasms.

Call your surgeon right away if you have:

  • Diarrhea that lasts more than three days
  • Nausea and vomiting that will not go away
  • Pain in your abdomen that gets worse or isn’t eased by the pain medicine
  • Pus drainage or redness around your incision
  • Fever with a temperature of 100.5 or higher


You should return to your normal sleeping patterns within 2-3 weeks. Try these tips to help you sleep:

  • Make sure you take enough rest breaks in between your normal daily activities, but avoid napping during the day.
  • Talk to a trusted family member or a friend if you have something on your mind.Get it off your chest so it worries you less when you are trying to sleep.
  • Avoid caffeine, especially after dinner. Remember that there's caffeine in regular coffee and some sodas, as well as chocolate and tea.
  • Take a relaxing shower (or bath, if permitted). Listen to relaxing music.
  • Take your pain medication about ½ hour before bedtime.
  • Find a comfortable sleeping position by arranging the pillows.

If you still have problems sleeping after 2-3 weeks, call your doctor.

Night Sweats

Patients often complain of night sweats for the first few weeks. Should you experience this, check your temperature to make sure that you do not have a fever. If your temperature is 101 degrees Fahrenheit or greater, call your doctor. If you do not have a fever, there is very little that can be done, but you should make yourself as comfortable as possible while waiting for the night sweats to go away. Change your linens and pajamas so you do not sleep in a damp bed. Night sweats usually disappear in a few weeks.

Disturbed Sleep

Following the procedure, some patients experience nightmares or insomnia. This will also disappear with time. To help you sleep better, try shortening your naps during the day and/or increasing your afternoon activities so that you will feel tired in the evenings. It is OK to sleep on your back, side or stomach. You will not hurt your incisions.



Follow-up after your procedure is extremely important and our surgeons at Salus are committed to providing all the post surgical care you need. In order to identify and treat any complications as they may arise, close, lifetime follow-up is essential.

Any time before your appointments, you should call your doctor if you:

  • Experience chest pain or discomfort similar to what you felt before the procedure.
  • Have new or increased swelling of the legs and feet.
  • See any signs of infection at the incision line.
  • Gain weight of more than 2 pounds in one day.
  • Have a fever higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius).
  • Experience new or increasingly rapid or irregular heart beats.
  • Have shortness of breath or dizziness even when you are resting.

 Types Of Interventional procedures Used In Angioplasty Are: