Coronary angioplasty is a procedure to open clogged heart arteries. First, a catheter, or small tube, is snaked into the artery; then, a balloon on its end is expanded to force the artery open. Often, a stent, or small wire mesh device, is inserted at the site of the clog to keep the artery open and prevent a heart attack.
The procedure usually takes several hours and requires a short hospital stay. Because angioplasty and stenting increase the amount of blood flowing to the heart, many people feel better almost immediately.
How quickly you can return to activities such as tennis or golf is variable and depends on your physical condition and activity level before the angioplasty, the number of blood vessels involved and your response to treatment. Your cardiologist will determine the level of activity appropriate for you.
Physical therapy often begins soon after surgery. Six to eight hours after the angioplasty, patients are generally encouraged to walk around, although they may feel sluggish and weak for a day or two. Lifting more than ten pounds and engaging in vigorous exercise should be avoided for the first week or two, but studies have shown that moderate exercise after stenting does not increase the risk of complications. After a few months, your cardiologist may order an exercise stress test to assess your condition and make sure your arteries remain open.
Not only is exercise safer than it was before your angioplasty but most physicians recommend it because of the benefits it affords. Exercise can
- prevent the recurrence of the condition that led to the angioplasty in the first place
- enable you to get a better night’s sleep
- keep your blood pressure, cholesterol and weight at healthy levels
Regardless of your physical limitations, we can work with you and your physician to set up an exercise program to help you to reach your goals. Using our skills and experience, we can determine the duration and intensity of your exercise program. The good news is that many patients who were physically active before angioplasty are able to return to playing the sports they love.