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Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation (TAVI): What to Expect at Home

The heart

Your Recovery

After your aortic valve is replaced, you will spend a few days in the hospital. This will help you get your energy back and make sure you are ready to go home.

You can do regular self-care (such as cleaning and dressing yourself, going to the washroom without help) within the first day of the procedure. Don't do any hard activities for the next 3 days. Your doctor may give you specific instructions on when you can do your normal activities again.

Your doctor may suggest that you attend a cardiac rehab program. In cardiac rehab, a team of health professionals provides education and support to help you recover and prevent problems with your heart. Ask your doctor if rehab is right for you.

This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to get better as quickly as possible.

How can you care for yourself at home?

Activity

  • Do not do strenuous exercise and do not lift, pull, or push anything heavy for at least 72 hours, or until your doctor says it is okay. This may be for a day or two. If you pull, push, or lift something and you feel pain or discomfort, stop and rest. Be careful walking up stairs for the first 72 hours. If the catheter was placed in your groin, try not to walk up stairs for the first couple of days.
  • Rest when you feel tired.
  • Daily activity can help speed up your recovery.

Diet

  • Eat a heart-healthy diet. If you have not been eating this way, talk to your doctor. You also may want to talk to a dietitian. They can help you learn about healthy foods.
  • It is common to have less of an appetite (feel less hungry than usual) after this procedure. This will get better over 3 to 4 weeks.
  • If your bowel movements are not regular right after the procedure, try to avoid constipation and straining. Drink plenty of water. Your doctor may suggest fibre, a stool softener, or a mild laxative.
  • If your doctor has told you to limit your fluids before this procedure, talk to your doctor before you start drinking more fluids again.

Medicines

  • Your heart-team doctor will tell you if and when you can restart your medicines. They will also give you instructions about taking any new medicines.
  • If you take aspirin or some other blood thinner, ask your doctor if and when to start taking it again. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
  • Your doctor will likely prescribe blood-thinning medicines. Be sure to get instructions about how to take your medicine safely. Blood thinners can cause serious bleeding problems.
  • Be safe with medicines. Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse call line if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.

Care of the catheter site

  • Check your catheter site every day for 1 week after the procedure.
  • For 1 or 2 days, keep a bandage over the spot where the catheter was inserted. The bandage probably will fall off in this time.
  • Put ice or a cold pack on the area for 10 to 20 minutes at a time to help with soreness or swelling. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin.
  • You may shower 24 to 48 hours after the procedure, if your doctor okays it. Pat the incision dry.
  • Do not soak the catheter site until it is healed. Don't take a bath for 1 week, or until your doctor tells you it is okay.
  • Watch for bleeding from the site. A small amount of blood (up to the size of a quarter) on the bandage, a bruise, or a soft lump under the skin, can be normal.
  • If you are bleeding (for example, a lot of blood has soaked through your dressing, or you have a hard lump under your skin that may be getting bigger), lie down and press on the area for 15 minutes to try to make it stop. If the bleeding does not stop, call your doctor or seek immediate medical care.

Other

  • Be sure to tell all of your doctors and your dentist that you have an artificial aortic valve. This is important because you may need to take antibiotics before certain procedures to prevent infection.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You have symptoms of a heart attack. These may include:
    • Chest pain or pressure, or a strange feeling in the chest.
    • Sweating.
    • Shortness of breath.
    • Nausea or vomiting.
    • Pain, pressure, or a strange feeling in the back, neck, jaw, or upper belly or in one or both shoulders or arms.
    • A fast or irregular heartbeat.
    After you call 911, the operator may tell you to chew 1 adult-strength or 2 to 4 low-dose aspirin. Wait for an ambulance. Do not try to drive yourself.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You are bleeding from the area where the catheter was put in your artery.
  • You have a fast-growing, painful lump at the catheter site.
  • You have signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the catheter site.
    • Pus draining from the catheter site.
    • A fever.
  • Your leg is painful, looks blue or pale, or feels cold, numb, or tingly.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if you have any problems.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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