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Angioplasty and stent placement

Angioplasty, also called percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), is a keyhole operation to widen or unblock an artery.

Doctor preparing a catheter before an Angioplasty and stent placement procedure
Angioplasty is a type of heart surgery commonly used to treat coronary heart disease. It is a minimally invasive (keyhole) operation that is used to widen an artery that has become narrowed or blocked. 
Angioplasty is also called percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) or coronary angioplasty. Your coronary arteries are the main blood vessels connected to your heart.

The operation is done using a minimally invasive (keyhole) technique. A small balloon is inserted into the artery, where it is inflated to stretch open the artery. Often a stent will be inserted in the same procedure in order to keep the artery open.

Coronary angioplasty can be used to reduce symptoms of angina. It is also used as an emergency treatment if you have a heart attack.

The cost of angioplasty and stent placement will depend on a variety of factors, including which hospital and which consultant you choose, as well as how long you need to stay in hospital. Call today to speak to our advisors and get a tailored quote.

Our fixed-price packages include the cost of your surgery and all appropriate aftercare appointments. However, any pre-surgery diagnostic tests and your consultant's outpatient appointment consultation fee are charged separately.

Our flexible payment options help you spread the cost of your payment across a time period that suits you. We offer fixed-term monthly payment plans over 10 months to five years with no deposit required. If you decide to pay over 10 months, you will pay interest-free. If you are paying for a longer period, you will pay 14.9% APR.

If you have private health insurance, the procedure will usually be covered by your provider. Speak to your insurer directly to find out.

Angioplasty is commonly used to treat a condition called coronary heart disease. This condition causes two main problems: angina and heart attack. If you have symptoms of angina that are damaging your quality of life, or if you have recently had a heart attack, your cardiologist may recommend a PCI procedure.

Angioplasty can improve blood flow to your heart, which in turn improves your heart muscle's oxygen supply.

Coronary heart disease

This is when your coronary arteries (the main blood vessels that serve your heart) have become clogged with fatty deposits called plaques.

Plaques build up over time and cause your arteries to thicken or harden in a process called atherosclerosis. As a result, it becomes harder for blood to flow through your coronary arteries and into your heart. This blood brings oxygen to your heart, and so a problem with blood flow to the heart also reduces your heart's oxygen supply.

Coronary heart disease (also known as coronary artery disease) can lead to:


Angina is the name for chest pain and other symptoms caused by reduced blood flow to the heart muscle. These include:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain travelling through your body
  • Feeling faint or dizzy
  • Feeling nauseated

Heart attack

A heart attack can happen when a blood clot stops the flow of blood to the heart. If you have plaque in your coronary arteries, sometimes a bit breaks off and creates a blood clot, which can cause a completely blocked artery. This can trigger a heart attack, because the blood supply to your heart has stopped.

Heart attacks don't automatically happen because you have coronary heart disease, however in the long term your risk is increased. If you do have a heart attack due to blocked arteries, angioplasty can prevent a further heart attack (or at least lower the risk) by widening the artery and therefore removing the cause.

Are there any alternatives to a PCI?

An angioplasty won't be suitable or necessary for everyone with angina. For some people it may be possible to have a coronary bypass surgery. Others won't be recommended surgery at all.

Coronary artery disease can also be treated using drugs to relieve the symptoms and to help prevent the disease getting worse. In some cases, lifestyle changes can significantly slow the development of coronary heart disease.

Coronary heart disease (CHD) develops slowly over time. Not everyone will have symptoms. Some people have a heart attack without noticing any previous signs of CHD.

If you do have symptoms of CHD, it's generally angina, which includes:

  • Chest pain (which might feel tight, dull or heavy)
  • Pain that spreads elsewhere in your body
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling faint
  • Feeling sick

Your symptoms might be triggered by exercise or stress, and they'll often calm down or stop within a few minutes of resting.

The main risk factor for CHD is age, as the condition develops over time. Other risk factors include:

  • High blood pressure
  • High levels of 'bad' cholesterol
  • Having diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • A sedentary lifestyle with little exercise
  • Genetics (coronary heart disease can run in families and is more prevalent among certain ethnic groups)

If you need cardiac treatment with Circle Health Group, the first step will usually be an initial consultation with a cardiologist. This is a crucial appointment during which your specialist will make or confirm a diagnosis of your heart health, testing for any suspected problems. It's also where we start to get to know you as an individual, which is a really important part of our philosophy.

Your consultant will probably organise a selection of diagnostic tests during this first appointment. Sometimes these can be done on the same day, and sometimes you'll have to come back another day to have them done. It depends on which tests you need.

As well as arranging tests, they will ask you lots of questions about your medical history, your symptoms and what brought you to see us, as well as more personal questions about your lifestyle and interests. We tailor our treatment plans to the individual, so we like to know what's important to you and what you want to get out of your treatment before we make our recommendations.

Once we have the results of your diagnostic tests, your consultant will be able to make a diagnosis and start putting together a treatment plan for you. This will be bespoke to you and they won't make any decisions before discussing them with you in detail.

A coronary angioplasty is performed while you are awake. We will usually give a local anaesthetic, which means you won't be able to feel the area we are operating on.

Your cardiologist will begin by making a small incision (cut) into an artery in your groin, wrist or arm. A thin tube called a catheter will be inserted and guided towards the affected coronary artery. We typically use an X-ray to help us guide the catheter to the right place.

Once the catheter is in place, they will insert a thin, hollow wire with an uninflated balloon on the end of it. Once at the narrowed or blocked artery, this balloon will be inflated, widening the artery so that blood and oxygen can flow more freely.

Often, a stent will also be inserted during this procedure. A stent is a sort of tube that sits inside your artery, holding it open permanently. The stent is usually placed around the balloon before it's inserted into your arteries. When the balloon is deflated and removed, the stent stays in place.

A PCI usually takes between half an hour and two hours.

Potential complications during or soon after the procedure:

  • Bleeding after the procedure
  • Bruising
  • Haematoma
  • Infection
  • False aneurysm or arteriovenous fistula
  • Kidney damage
  • Allergic reaction
  • Radiation exposure
  • Thrombosis
  • Lost stent
  • Change in heart rhythm
  • Blood leaking into the sac that surrounds the heart
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke

Potential late complications:

  • Stent restenosis
  • Stent thrombosis

Most people are able to go home the same day or the day after they have surgery.

Once you get home, you should avoid any strenuous activity for at least a week. Your care team will let you know how to look after yourself when you get home, what activities to avoid and how to care for your wound. We'll let you know what to expect from your recovery, and give you any medicines you might need to take home with you.

You won't be able to drive yourself home, so it's a good idea to arrange for a loved one to collect you. We can order you a taxi if you would prefer.

If you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol, you will usually need to continue with most of the drugs you were on before the procedure. Your consultant will tell you everything you need to know about this.

As you recover, we'll keep in touch regularly to make sure you're feeling better, and we won't fully discharge you until we're happy that you're well on the road to recovery.

At Circle Health Group, there are three ways you can pay for treatment. You can use your private health insurance, you can pay for yourself in full, or you can us our flexible payment options to spread the cost.

If you have private medical insurance, speak to your insurer about how to get a referral to one of our hospitals. We work with all major health insurance providers.

If you are paying for your own treatment and would like to spread the cost to make it more affordable, we work with Chrysalis Finance to offer loans that can be paid back over a period of one to five years.

When you choose to go private with Circle Health Group, you can expect:

  • Flexible appointment times to fit your schedule
  • The freedom to choose your hospital and your consultant
  • Bespoke, consultant-led treatment plans tailored to your individual needs
  • Private ensuite rooms as standard
  • Tasty and nutritious meals cooked onsite to your dietary requirements
  • Support from the same compassionate clinical team from beginning to end
  • Affordable, fixed-price packages with aftercare included
  • Flexible payment options to help spread the cost of your care

If you want to know more about cardiology and how we can help you look after your heart, book your appointment online today or call a member of our team directly on 0141 300 5009.

Content reviewed by Circle in-house team in August 2022. Next review due August 2025.

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