Heart Disease Treatment With Angioplasty and Stents
What Can I Expect Before an Angioplasty?
Before an angioplasty, most people will need to have a routine chest X-ray, blood test, electrocardiogram and urinalysis. These tests may require separate appointments and are usually scheduled the day before the procedure.
You will not be able to eat or drink after midnight the evening before the procedure.
If you normally wear dentures or a hearing assistive device, plan to wear them during your angioplasty to help with communication. If you wear glasses, bring them also.
Please tell your doctor or nurse if you are taking Coumadin (warfarin), diuretics (water pills), or insulin. Also let them know if you are allergic to anything, especially iodine, shellfish, X-ray dye, latex or rubber products (such as rubber gloves or balloons), or penicillin-type medications.
You will need to take aspirin before the procedure. Please tell your doctor or nurse if you did not take aspirin.
You will remain awake during an angioplasty, but you are given medication to help you relax.
What Happens After an Angioplasty?
If your angioplasty was performed by inserting the catheter in the artery at your groin, you will have to lay flat (without bending your legs) while the groin sheath is in place. A sheet may be placed across your leg with the sheath to remind you to keep it straight.
After the groin sheath is removed, you must lay flat for about six hours to prevent bleeding, but your nurse can raise your head (about two pillows high) after two hours. Your nurse will tell you when you can get out of bed with assistance six to eight hours after the groin sheath is removed (or sooner if a collagen "plug" was placed in your artery).
You should not eat or drink anything except clear liquids until the groin sheath is removed because nausea can occur during this time. Once you are allowed to eat, you will be advised to follow a low-cholesterol and low-salt diet. You may be admitted to the hospital overnight for observation after the procedure.
Notify your doctor or nurse immediately if you develop a fever or experience chest pain, swelling, or pain in your groin or leg. If you experience bleeding from your groin site after you return home, call 9-1-1 and lie down immediately. Remove the dressing and push down on your pulse in the affected area.
If a stent was placed during the angioplasty procedure, you will need to take platelet-blocking medications to reduce the possibility of a blood clot forming near the newly implanted stent.
When you have recovered sufficiently from the procedure and have talked with your doctor about your follow-up care, you will be able to go home.
You will need to take it easy for a few days after an angioplasty. You may climb stairs, but use a slower pace. Do not strain during bowel movements.
Gradually increase your activities until you reach your normal activity level by the end of the week.
If your angioplasty was performed by inserting the catheter in the artery at your wrist or arm, then the doctor will place a special bandage to ensure that it heals properly. You will wear this for a couple of hours, then the doctor or other provider will remove it and check to see if the artery has sufficiently healed. Lying down will not be necessary in this case.