Angioplasty is a procedure to open narrowed or blocked blood vessels that supply blood to the heart. These blood vessels are called the coronary arteries. A coronary artery stent is a small, metal mesh tube that expands inside a coronary artery.
Drug-eluting stents - discharge; PCI - discharge; Percutaneous coronary intervention - discharge; Balloon angioplasty - discharge; Coronary angioplasty - discharge; Coronary artery angioplasty - discharge; Cardiac angioplasty - discharge; PTCA - discharge; Percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty - discharge; Heart artery dilatation - discharge; Angina angioplasty - discharge; Heart attack angioplasty - discharge; CAD angioplasty - discharge
You had angioplasty when you were in the hospital. You may have also had a stent placed. Both of these were done to open narrowed or blocked coronary arteries, the blood vessels that supply blood to your heart. You may have had a heart attack or angina (chest pain) before the procedure.
You may have pain in your groin area, arm, or wrist. This is from the catheter (flexible tube) that was inserted to do the procedure. You may also have some bruising around and below the incision.
The chest pain and shortness of breath you likely had before the procedure should be much better now.
In general, people who have angioplasty can walk around within 6 hours after the procedure. You may be able to be up and walking earlier if the procedure was performed through the wrist. Complete recovery takes a week or less. Keep the area where the catheter was inserted dry for 24 to 48 hours.
If the doctor put the catheter in through your groin:
- Walking short distances on a flat surface is OK. Limit going up and down stairs to around 2 times a day for the first 2 to 3 days.
- Don't do yard work, drive, squat, carry heavy objects, or play sports for at least 2 days, or until your health care provider tells you it is safe.
If the doctor put the catheter in your arm or wrist:
- Don't lift anything heavier than 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms) (a little more than a gallon of milk) with the arm that had the catheter.
- Don't do any heavy pushing, pulling or twisting with that arm.
For a catheter in your groin, arm, or wrist:
- Avoid sexual activity for 2 to 5 days. Ask your provider when it will be OK to start again.
- Don't take a bath or swim for the first week. You may take showers, but make sure the area where the catheter was inserted does not get wet for the first 24 to 48 hours.
- You should be able to return to work in 2 to 3 days if you do not do heavy work.
You will need to care for your incision.
- Your provider will tell you how often to change your dressing.
- If your incision bleeds or swells up, lie down and put pressure on it for 30 minutes.
Angioplasty does not cure the cause of the blockage in your arteries. Your arteries may become narrow again. Eat a heart-healthy diet, exercise, stop smoking (if you smoke), and reduce stress to help lower your chances of having a blocked artery again. Your provider may give you medicine to help lower your cholesterol.
Most people take aspirin together with another antiplatelet medicine such as clopidogrel (Plavix), prasugrel (Efient), or ticagrelor (Brilinta) after this procedure. These medicines are blood thinners. They keep your blood from forming clots in your arteries and stent. A blood clot can lead to a heart attack. Take the medicines exactly as your provider tells you. Do not stop taking them without talking with your provider first.
You should know how to take care of your angina if it returns.
Make sure you have a follow-up appointment scheduled with your heart doctor (cardiologist).
Your doctor may refer you to a cardiac rehabilitation program. This will help you learn how to slowly increase your exercise. You will also learn how to take care of your angina and care for yourself after a heart attack.
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