In general, people who have angioplasty can walk around within 6 hours after the procedure. Complete recovery takes a week or less. Keep the area where the catheter was inserted dry for 24 to 48 hours.
If the doctor put the catheter in through your groin:
- Walking short distances on a flat surface is okay. Limit going up and down stairs to around 2 times a day for the first 2 to 3 days.
- Do NOT do yard work, drive, squat, carry heavy objects, or play sports for at least 2 days, or until your doctor tells you it is safe.
If the doctor put the catheter in your arm or wrist:
- Do NOT lift anything heavier than 10 pounds (a little more than a gallon of milk) with the arm that had the catheter.
- Do NOT do any heavy pushing or pulling with that arm.
For a catheter in your groin, arm, or wrist:
- Avoid sexual activity for 2 to 5 days. Ask your doctor when it will be okay to start again.
- Do NOT take a bath or swim for the first week. You may take showers, but make sure the area where the catheter was inserted does not get wet for the first 24 to 48 hours.
- You should be able to return to work in 2 to 3 days if you do not do heavy work.
You will need to care for your incision.
- Your doctor or nurse will tell you how often to change your dressing.
- If your incision bleeds or swells up, lie down and put pressure on it for 30 minutes.
Angioplasty does not cure the cause of the blockage in your arteries. Your arteries may become narrow again. Eat a heart-healthy diet, exercise, stop smoking (if you smoke), and reduce stress to help lower your chances of having a blocked artery again. Your health care provider may give you medicine to help lower your cholesterol.
Most people take aspirin together with another medicine such as clopidogrel (Plavix), prasugrel (Efient), or ticagrelor (Brilinta) after this procedure. These medicines are blood thinners. They keep your blood from forming clots in your arteries and stent. A blood clot can lead to a heart attack. Take the medicines exactly as your doctor tells you. Do not stop taking them without talking with your doctor first.
You should know how to take care of your angina if it returns.
Make sure you have a follow-up appointment scheduled with your heart doctor (cardiologist).
Your doctor may refer you to a cardiac rehabilitation program. This will help you learn how to slowly increase your exercise. You will also learn how to take care of your angina and care for yourself after a heart attack.