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Discharge Instructions for Coronary Angioplasty and Stenting

During your angioplasty, a doctor inserts a thin tube called a catheter into a blood vessel in your groin or wrist. The catheter is guided through your blood vessel to a blocked area in one of your heart’s arteries. The doctor inflates a tiny balloon at the tip of the catheter and stretches the blocked vessel so blood can flow freely. The balloon is then deflated and removed with the catheter. The doctor may also insert a metal mesh tube called a stent in the blocked vessel. The stent helps the vessel stay open. You may get several stents if you have blockages in more than one of your arteries.

Home care

  • Ask someone to drive you to your appointments for the next few days.

  • Rest for  2 to 3 days after the procedure. Most people are able to go back to normal activity within a few days.

  • Check your incision for signs of infection every day for a week. Signs of infection include redness, swelling, drainage, or warmth. It's normal to have a small bruise or bump where the catheter was inserted. Take your temperature if you have fever or chills.

  • Take your medicines exactly as directed. Don’t skip doses. It's important to take aspirin or other similar medicines for as long as your provider advises. If you were also prescribed clopidogrel, prasugrel, or ticagrelor, it's very important to take these medicines, as well. These medicines prevent clots that could cause a heart attack. If you have a problem with any of your medicines, call healthcare provider right away. Call your provider right away if you have bleeding, but go to the emergency room if the bleeding can't be controlled.

  • Unless told otherwise, drink plenty of fluids to help flush your body of the dye that was used during your angioplasty. Let your healthcare provider know if the color of your urine changes and doesn't return to normal color.

  • Eat a healthy diet that is low in fat, salt, extra sugar, and cholesterol. Ask your healthcare team for menus and other diet information.

  • Exercise according to your healthcare team's advice. Depending on your case, your team may recommend you start a cardiac rehabilitation program. Cardiac rehab is an exercise program in which trained healthcare staff monitor your progress and stress on your heart while you exercise. Ask how to enroll if your team recommends this program.

  • Don't swim or take a bath for 5 to 7 days. You may shower the day after the procedure. This keeps the incision site from getting too wet and infected until the skin and artery can heal.

Follow-up care

  • Make a follow-up appointment as directed. Follow-up appointments are usually scheduled for 2 to 4 weeks after an angioplasty or coronary stent procedure.

  • Have a yearly checkup to make sure you are still doing well and not having any new symptoms.

  • Don't wait for a follow-up appointment if your medicines are not working or you are having heart-related symptoms.

When to call your healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following:

  • Chest pain or a return of the symptoms you had before the angioplasty

  • Constant or increasing pain or numbness in your leg, or if your leg looks blue or feels cold

  • Fever above  100.4° F ( 38.0°C) or other signs of infection (redness, swelling, drainage, or warmth at the incision site of the leg or wrist)

  • Shortness of breath

  • Bleeding, bruising, or a large swelling where the catheter (tube) was inserted

  • Blood in your urine

  • Black or tarry stools

  • Feeling faint

  • Trouble speaking or weakness in any muscle

Online Medical Reviewer: Lu Cunningham
Online Medical Reviewer: Mandy Snyder APRN
Online Medical Reviewer: Steven Kang MD
Date Last Reviewed: 7/1/2019
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