Percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) is a treatment for persons experiencing myocardial
ischemia (inadequate blood flow to the heart) or myocardial infarction (heart attack). The goal of PCI is to open up
a coronary artery (blood vessel that brings blood
and oxygen to the heart muscle) and restore blood flow. Primary PCI is an
emergency treatment performed to reduce the amount of heart muscle permanently
damaged by a heart attack. Primary PCI reduces the mortality (death) rate from heart attack. The February 11, 2004, issue of JAMA includes an article about the use of PCI to treat
Percutaneous coronary intervention requires the use of the cardiac catheterization
suite with special equipment, x-ray capability, and trained personnel. Usually
access to the heart and major blood vessels is obtained through the femoral artery in the groin area. The artery is punctured
through the skin with a special needle. Under x-ray guidance, a catheter is
threaded through the femoral artery up into the aorta (large
artery from the heart) and then gently advanced into the affected coronary
artery. There, a balloon is used to open the coronary artery (balloon angioplasty) and restore blood flow. Sometimes a stent (a mesh-like metal tube that holds open the artery) is placed
at that time to maintain good blood flow through the damaged area.Percutaneous
coronary intervention is not the right treatment for everyone. Your individual
treatment options should be discussed with your doctor.
Feeling of discomfort in the neck, jaw, or arms (especially the left arm)
Shortness of breath
Nausea or breaking into a cold sweat
Indigestion—not typical or related to food
If you or someone around you has these warning signs,
activate the local emergency medical services response by calling 911 immediately.
American Heart Association 800/242-8721 http://www.americanheart.org
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute National Heart
Attack Alert Program 301/592-8573 http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov
American College of Cardiology http://www.acc.org
To find this and previous JAMA Patient Pages, go to the Patient Page
link on JAMA's Web site at http://www.jama.com. Many are available in English and Spanish. A Patient Page on heart
attack treatments was published in the July 28, 1999, issue; one on women
and heart disease was published in the December 25, 2002, issue; and one on
risk factors for heart disease was published in the August 20, 2003, issue.
Sources: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; American Heart Association;
American College of Cardiology
The JAMA Patient Page is a public service of JAMA. The information and recommendations appearing on this page are appropriate
in most instances, but they are not a substitute for medical diagnosis. For
specific information concerning your personal medical condition, JAMA suggests that you consult your physician. This page may be photocopied
noncommercially by physicians and other health care professionals to share
with patients. Any other print or online reproduction is subject to AMA approval.
To purchase bulk reprints, call 718/946-7424.
TOPIC: HEART DISEASE
Torpy JM, Lynm C, Glass RM. Percutaneous Coronary Intervention. JAMA. 2004;291(6):778. doi:10.1001/jama.291.6.778