Angioplasties are increasingly recommended for uncomplicated cases with minimum blockages as they are less invasive and require shorter recovery time. However, as with any surgery, there are quite a few precautions that one must undertake to ensure a complication-free recovery. This handy primer is a supportive document to your cardiologist’s advice. In case of any doubts, consult your cardiologist. For your ease, let us break down the recovery period into what one can expect at the hospital after the procedure, the actual recovery, and general precautions.

What to expect at the hospital after the procedure:
1. In the case of groin catheterization, one will need to lie straight with unbent legs while the groin sheath is in place. In some situations, a sheet may be placed across your legs to help you keep them straight.

2. You are advised to stay lying in a flat position for at least 6 hours post sheath removal. This is to prevent hemorrhage. If you are uncomfortable, you can have your head elevated after 2 hours.

3. Moving out of bed will depend on the nature of your recovery and the nursing staff’s advice.

4. It is best to avoid consuming anything other than clear liquids while the sheath is in place. This will help prevent nausea. Remember to stick to a heart-healthy diet once the cardiologist gives the all-clear sign to resume solid food.

5. In case you experience chest pain, swelling, pain at the insertion site or bleeding; call your cardiologist immediately.

6. In case you have had a stent placed in your heart after your angioplasty, you will be required to take certain medicines to reduce the chances of blood clot formation.

7. In the case of arm catheterization, a specialized bandage will be placed to ensure proper healing.

During the recovery period:
1. In case your angioplasty was done without you undergoing a heart attack prior to it, you can be back in the driver’s seat just after 2 days. If you have had a heart attack though, you will need to wait till your cardiologist gives you the green signal.
2. Even though an angioplasty is less invasive, it is still a major procedure so take care and rest to avoid all strenuous activities. Avoid lifting heavy objects (more than 5 kg) preferably till 1 week after the procedure.
3. Getting enough rest does not mean that one can turn into a couch potato though. Regular exercises recommended by the doctor will not only speed up your recovery but also will help in preventing further cardiac incidences. Your diet will also play a major role in your recovery. Consuming a heart-healthy diet that is low in sodium and fats is crucial to your long-term wellbeing.

Do’s:
1. Don’t be in a hurry to resume your routine activities after your angioplasty and stent implantation. Resume them gradually to avoid strain.
2. One major point to remember is that angioplasty won’t cure your disease. It only serves to keep your arteries open. To truly prevent future incidence, you will need to change your lifestyle and diet.
3. Ensure that your diet mainly consists of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, etc. to decrease your heart disease risk.
4. Reduce and control your salt consumption as well as sugar intake.
5. Most importantly, do NOT skip or neglect your medication. Consume your prescribed medicines such as blood-thinners, lipid-lowering medicines, such as statins or anti-hypertensive as recommended by your cardiologist, depending on your condition.
6. Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy body weight.
7. Do follow-up regularly with your cardiologist.
8. Always carry a stent implantation card with you to avoid unforeseen problems.

Don’t:
1) Stop smoking immediately. Consume alcohol only if your cardiologist says it is ok to do so.
2) Avoid taking on too much stress.

Now that you are on the journey towards healing, here’s wishing you a happy and complication-free recovery period! Get well soon!

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