After the Procedure
The patient will be returned to their hospital room and closely watched by the nursing staff. The ECG may still be attached and monitored, along with blood pressure readings on a regular basis. The catheter insertion site will be checked along with the patient’s pulse in their feet and arms.
If the catheter was inserted in the groin area, the patient should expect to stay in bed for several hours. The introducer sheath may still be in place and will usually be removed within 6 hours after the procedure is completed. If Heparin or other anticoagulants continue to be administered, the sheath may be in place longer. The patient will be asked to lay flat on their back keeping their leg as still as possible while the introducer sheath is in place and for several hours after its removal.
The patient should not try to sit up unless instructed to do so by the doctor. It’s important to lie still to prevent the artery from bleeding. If a warm, wet sensation or sharp pain is felt near the insertion site, call the nurse immediately.
Mild chest pain is common immediately after the procedure and should fade within a couple of hours. If chest pain increases or returns, let the nurse know immediately. Additional x-rays may be needed to make sure there are no problems with the dilated artery.
In order to help the body remove the dye or contrast material, the patient will be asked to drink a lot of fluids and will urinate frequently. Prior to discharge, the patient will be asked to walk. Let the nurses know if the patient needs help with any activity.
Recovery at Home
The patient is usually discharged after one to three days, and should arrange for transportation home from the hospital.
The doctor will go over guidelines for activity, diet and medications. Even though the patient may feel better than they have in a long time, they should avoid heavy lifting or other strenuous exercise as per the doctors orders.
The doctor will also prescribe medications that should be taken as directed. These medications will help prevent spasms and keep blood clots from forming in the newly opened artery. If the medication is causing unpleasant side effects, call the doctor but do not stop taking them unless instructed.
Keep all follow up appointments and let the doctor know right away if there is unusual pain. The doctor will want to follow the patient’s progress closely. The majority of patients who go home after a successful procedure have no further problems. However in some patients, narrowing of the artery may return, most often within the first three to six months.
Healthy Lifestyle Changes
Making lifestyle changes as well as taking medication is an important part of the recovery process. Eating more heart healthy foods like the Mediterranean Diet, exercising on a regular basis, and losing weight if needed will help the most after the procedure.
Join a support group. The hospital or doctor’s office should have information for support groups that meet locally. Mended Hearts is a national support group with local chapters all over the U.S. for CAD patients and their family. Information can be found at www.mendedhearts.org or by calling toll free 888-HEART99 (888-432-7899).
None of these procedures are a cure for coronary artery or peripheral vascular disease, they are only treatments. Adopting a healthy lifestyle is the best way to reduce the chance of further treatment.
Information presented in this Patient Healthcare Guide is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prevent disease, and should not be used in place of a visit to your doctor or healthcare provider. Discuss this information with your physician or healthcare provider to determine what is right for you.