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What To Expect After Percutaneous Coronary Intervention

After coronary angioplasty, you'll be moved to a special care unit. You'll stay there for a few hours or overnight. You must lie still for a few hours to allow the blood vessel in your arm or groin (upper thigh) to seal completely.

While you recover, nurses will check your heart rate and blood pressure. They also will check your arm or groin for bleeding. After a few hours, you'll be able to walk with help.

The place where the catheters (tubes) were inserted may feel sore or tender for about a week.

Going Home

Most people go home the day after the procedure. When your doctor thinks you're ready to leave the hospital, you'll get instructions to follow at home, such as:

  • How much activity or exercise you can do.
  • When you should follow up with your doctor.
  • What medicines you should take.
  • What you should look for daily when checking for signs of infection around the area where the tube was inserted. Signs of infection may include redness, swelling, or drainage.
  • When you should call your doctor. For example, you may need to call if you have shortness of breath; a fever; or signs of infection, pain, or bleeding where the tubes were inserted.
  • When you should call 9–1–1 (for example, if you have any chest pain).

Your doctor will prescribe medicine to prevent blood clots from forming. Taking your medicine as directed is very important. If you got a stent during angioplasty, the medicine reduces the risk that blood clots will form in the stent. Blood clots in the stent can block blood flow and cause a heart attack.

Recovery and Recuperation

Most people recover from angioplasty and return to work about 1 week after leaving the hospital. Your doctor will want to check your progress after you leave the hospital. During the followup visit, your doctor will examine you, make changes to your medicines (if needed), do any necessary tests, and check your overall recovery.

Use this time to ask questions you may have about activities, medicines, or lifestyle changes, or to talk about any other issues that concern you.

Lifestyle Changes

Although angioplasty can reduce the symptoms of coronary heart disease (CHD), it isn't a cure for CHD or the risk factors that led to it. Making healthy lifestyle changes can help treat CHD and maintain the good results from angioplasty.

Talk with your doctor about your risk factors for CHD and the lifestyle changes you'll need to make. For some people, these changes may be the only treatment needed.

Lifestyle changes may include changing your diet, quitting smoking, doing physical activity regularly, losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight, and reducing stress. You also should take all of your medicines exactly as your doctor prescribes.

For more information on controlling heart disease risk factors and making lifestyle changes, see “How To Prevent and Control Heart Disease Risk Factors,” and “How Is Coronary Artery Disease Treated?” You also can visit the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's “Your Guide to Living Well With Heart Disease.”

Cardiac Rehabilitation

Your doctor may recommend cardiac rehabilitation (rehab). Cardiac rehab is a medically supervised program that helps improve the health and well-being of people who have heart problems.

Cardiac rehab includes exercise training, education on heart healthy living, and counseling to reduce stress and help you return to an active life. Your doctor can tell you where to find a cardiac rehab program near your home.

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August 28, 2014