Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Unstable Angina Angioplasty

Angioplasty is an effective treatment for angina that fails to respond to medications. Angioplasty is a procedure that must be performed during cardiac catheterization.

During a cardiac catheterization, a catheter (thin plastic tube) is inserted into an artery in the groin, and then threaded up through the aorta to the heart. During angioplasty, the catheter is advanced into the narrowed part of the coronary artery. A balloon at the end of the catheter is inflated, in order to force open the narrowed artery. Alternative techniques include cutting or burning away the blockage with a tiny blade or laser.


After angioplasty, a stent may be used to help hold the artery open. Stents are tiny struts that expand against the inside wall of the artery. They prop open the blood vessel after it has been opened.

  • Coronary artery stent
  • Coronary artery stenting

Rare complications of angioplasty include:
  • Allergic reaction to the dye
  • Heart attack
  • Coronary artery rupture
  • A small number of opened arteries become narrowed again. However, stents are used to protect against this complication.

Continue to Unstable Angina Cardiac Rehabilitation

Last Updated: Nov 22, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Unstable Angina References
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  2. Brown TL, Merrill J, Hill P, Bengel FM. Relationship of coronary calcium and myocardial perfusion in individuals with chest pain. Assessed by integrated rubidium-82 PET-CT. Nuklearmedizin. 2008;47(6):255-260. [19057799]
  3. O'Toole L. Angina (stable). Clin Evid. 2005 Jun;(13):62-9. [16135259]
  4. Parker JO. Angina pectoris: a review of current and emerging therapies. Am J Manag Care. 2004 Oct;10(11 Suppl):S332-8. [15603242]
  5. Scheidt S. Treatment of stable angina: medical and invasive therapy--implications for the elderly. Am J Geriatr Cardiol. 2005 Jul-Aug;14(4):183-92. [16015059]
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