Coronary angioplasty is a procedure to unblock a coronary artery. A catheter (flexible tube) with a small balloon at the end is inserted through an artery in the groin or arm. The balloon is directed to the blockage using X-ray guidance.
Once in place, the balloon is inflated. This pushes the fatty material out of the path of the blood and improves the blood supply in the heart.
When a coronary angioplasty is performed as an emergency treatment for a heart attack, it is called a primary angioplasty.
In most cases a stent will also be left in the artery to keep it open - sometimes called coronary stenting. The stent is a small expandable metal tube which is fitted over the balloon. When the balloon is inflated, the stent expands to hold open the narrowed artery. The balloon is then deflated and removed, leaving the stent in place.
Royal Brompton has a long record of carrying out these procedures, having performed the UK's first coronary angioplasty in 1980 and implanting the first coronary stent in 1988.
Watch our short films to understand more about your coronary angioplasty procedure
Read about the benefits and risks of coronary angioplasty