Pressure wire study

What is a pressure wire study?

A pressure wire study only takes place during coronary angiography, which is an X-ray procedure used to check the coronary arteries. The test helps your cardiologist to assess the consequences of the blood flow to your heart muscle if you have narrowed heart arteries.

What is the purpose of a pressure wire study?

The test can be used to predict if someone is likely to go on to develop heart failure. The wire technique can work out the level of damage to your arteries in minutes. Doctors can quickly and accurately determine if patients are at a high risk of heart failure after their heart attack based on the damage to their arteries.

What happens during the study?

A local anaesthetic will be applied to your wrist or groin and the doctor will insert a catheter (thin tube) into the artery followed by a wire with a special pressure sensor at its tip. The wire will then be placed beyond the narrowing in the coronary artery (passed up to the heart) using X-ray imagery.

The sensor records the pressure at either side of the narrowing. A drug (Adenosine) may be inserted through the catheter to maximise blood flow. Adenosine can make your chest feel tight but this passes very quickly.

What happens after the pressure wire study?

After both the coronary angiography and pressure wire study, the doctor will discuss your test results and possible treatment options. In some cases, angioplasty and stent insertion may be performed as an immediate follow-on procedure. Nurses will monitor you in hospital for up to four hours after the procedure. 

You will be provided with a supply of tablets to take home with you. If you have had a stent, you must continue taking two blood-thinning drugs (anti-platelet) after the procedure. These normally include aspirin and another drug known as Clopidogrel.

The dual tablets are usually continued for between 4-12 months and are taken to prevent the stent from blocking due to a blood clot.

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