Angioplasty is a medical technique used for the purpose of widening up any narrow or obstructed blood vessel. This kind of blockage occurs due to accumulation of fatty substances, like cholesterol, inside them. During angioplasty, a device that looks like a deflated balloon is inserted into the narrowed artery and is inflated so that the obstruction can be cleared. In most cases of angioplasty, a slender tube called stent, is inserted in order to keep the artery open. Proper aftercare is a must for patients who have undergone angioplasty. This is because, their overall health condition is quite weak at this stage and are more prone to various forms of infection.
The first few weeks after the patient is discharged from the hospital are very crucial for complete recovery. When the foreign material (or the stent) comes into the bloodstream, the risk of getting blood clots is always there. The blood clots, thus formed inside the affected artery, can badly disrupt the flow of blood and oxygen to the heart. This may lead to a massive heart attack that can even cause death. Once a scar tissue is formed around the stent, the chance of blood clot formation reduces to a great extent. Till then, the patient has to take some precautions. Some important tips are given below:
Care for the Site: There is accumulation of blood in the tissues at the surgical site which gives pain and is tender to touch. This localized swelling is called hematoma, and its size and soreness tend to go down after one or two weeks. During this time, the area should either be covered up with the help of a band-aid or one can keep it open. If the bruise or swelling gets aggravated, or any kind of redness or temperature rise is observed at the site, then the doctor should be consulted without any delay.
Daily Routine: Most patients who have undergone angioplasty can resume their usual routine work within three to seven days. However, for those patients who suffered a heart attack or any other type of heart damage has occurred, more time is required for recovery. They should take the advise of their doctor before getting back to normal activities. In the recovery phase, lifting of heavy objects that are more than five to ten pounds is not allowed. Driving a car is permissible within a week for those who do not have any damage in the heart. Others have to check out with their doctor when they can start driving.
Walking Exercise: Walking exercises are very important after angioplasty. Patients are advised to walk around at least two or three times every day, after they are released from the hospital. Care should be taken that they do not overdo it. They can increase the distance slowly day-by-day and it largely depends on how much their heart permits. If symptoms like chest discomfort, excessive shortness of breath or dizziness are noticed during a walking exercise, that means, the heart is not yet ready to take up that much of pressure. In that case, one must stop walking immediately and take some rest. If the problem continues, the doctor should be informed about it immediately.
Return to Office Work: This depends on a number of factors that include the success of the surgical operation, condition of the heart and the nature of his or her job. At the time of follow-up visits, doctors conduct a treadmill test on the patients to determine their progress of recovery. Based on these results, doctors will decide when one can resume their normal office work.
An integral part of aftercare of any surgical procedure is proper medication and diet. Patients have to strictly follow the instructions given by the doctor regarding the dosage, schedule and side effects, if any, of each and every medicine. The diet should be as per the directions given by the dietitian. Obviously, one has to follow a low cholesterol diet. They have to increase the intake of fiber rich foods such as oatmeal, beans, apples, etc. as the soluble fiber present in them can lower cholesterol.