Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI)

Why is it done?

The build-up of fats and cholesterol (referred to as plaque), or large blood clots, can cause the narrowing or blocking of your arteries. This can cause the heart muscle to be starved of oxygen as blood flow is significantly reduced. Percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) aims to restore the supply of blood to the heart by unblocking the narrowed arteries that may be causing your heart failure. It’s less invasive than surgery. PCI, coupled with stenting, has proven successful in many patients.

What does it involve?

A fine, flexible, hollow tube (catheter) with a small inflatable balloon at its tip is passed into an artery in either your groin or arm and directed to your heart using X-ray screening. Once it reaches the narrowed or blocked section, the balloon is inflated to briefly dilate the artery and restore blood flow. All patients will require antithrombotic medicines after the procedure to prevent blood clots.

Questions to ask your doctor:

  • What are the risks associated with the procedure?
  • Will I have to stay in hospital?
  • What do I need to do to prepare for the procedure?
  • Will I have a local or general anaesthetic?
  • Will I have to take additional medicines after the procedure?
  • Will I have a stent inserted during the PCI procedure?

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ESC Guidelines for Heart Failure

What patients need to know

This guide for patients from the European Society of Cardiology aims to provide an overview of the latest evidence-based recommendations for the diagnosis and treatment of heart failure.

In particular, it should help patients to understand the:

  • main types of heart failure
  • medicines used to treat heart failure
  • devices that may be appropriate
  • importance of rehabilitation
  • management by a multidisciplinary team
  • importance of self-care in managing your own condition

Learn more


A series of 9 simple, captivating animations explaining heart failure and its treatment.

These narrated animations explain how a healthy heart works, what happens to it in heart failure and how various treatments work to improve your health.


In this section you can watch, listen or read interviews with other people with heart failure and their caregivers.


and share your own views and experiences with other patients, families and caregivers. is a European Society of Cardiology website

The website was developed under the direction of the Heart Failure Association of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC). The ESC is a world leader in the discovery and dissemination of best practices in cardiovascular medicine. Our members and decision-makers are healthcare professionals who volunteer their time and expertise to represent professionals in the field of cardiology in Europe and beyond.

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