Recovery from angioplasty and stenting is typically brief. Discharge from the hospital is usually 12 to 24 hours after the catheter is removed. Many patients are able to return to work within a few days to a week after a procedure.
What to Expect at Home
After an interventional procedure, it is normal to:
- Have a bruise or discolored area near where the catheter was inserted. At the same site, there may also be a small lump (which should not get bigger), soreness when pressure is applied and perhaps a small amount (one or two drops) of discharge.
Feel more tired than usual for several days. If your intervention was performed while you were having a heart attack, feelings of tiredness will last longer – perhaps as long as six weeks, the time it takes for healing after an attack.
When to call the doctor:
- If you feel chest pain like you felt before the procedure or during it when the balloon catheter was inflated in your artery. Some patients have chest pain lasting one to two seconds. Typically, they say it feels different from the pain they felt before the procedure. These brief pains are often muscular and are not related to the heart.
- If the puncture wound in your leg or arm gets bigger, turns red, drains a thick yellow/brown material or is painful, even when no pressure is applied. A larger, painful lump may be a sign that the puncture hole is not healing properly or is leaking blood.
- If you have fever.
- If you experience swelling – with or without pain – anywhere in the leg in which the catheter was inserted.
When to call 911 or go to the hospital:
- If you have chest pain that lasts 15 to 20 minutes, call 911 or go to the hospital emergency room.
Resuming Normal Activities After Your Procedure
Always follow your doctor’s instructions about the activity level appropriate for you. A general guide is:
Occasionally, your doctor may ask you to take a stress (treadmill) test three to six weeks after your procedure. The results of the test will help guide your doctor in recommending an appropriate level of activity for you. The results may lead to a recommendation that you enroll in an exercise program supervised by health professionals. Supervised cardiac rehabilitation programs are designed to help you build a stronger heart and reduce risk factorsfor more blocked arteries in the future.
- For the first five days, do only light activities. Walking, climbing stairs and taking care of routine activities are fine. After five days, you may resume moderate activities, but you should avoid over exertion that leads to shortness of breath, tiredness or chest pain.
- Wait until three to four weeks before lifting heavy objects or doing strenuous exercise. Get clearance from your doctor before very strenuous activity or manual labor.