Peripheral Artery Angioplasty: What to Expect at Home

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Your Recovery

Your groin or leg may have a bruise or a small lump where the catheter was put in your groin. The area may feel sore for a day or two after the procedure. You can do light activities around the house but nothing strenuous for several days.

After surgery, blood may flow better throughout your leg, which can decrease leg pain, numbness, and cramping.

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 feel better as quickly as possible.

How can you care for yourself at home?

Activity

  • Do not do strenuous exercise and do not lift anything heavy until your doctor says it is okay. This may be for a day or two. You can walk around the house and do light activity, such as cooking.
  • For 2 days after you go home, do not take baths. Showers are okay.
  • Go back to regular exercise when your doctor says it is okay. Walking is a good choice.
  • If you work, you will probably need to take 1 or 2 days off. It depends on the type of work you do and how you feel.

Diet

  • You can eat your normal diet.
  • Drink plenty of fluids (unless your doctor tells you not to).

Medicines

  • Your doctor will tell you if and when you can restart your medicines. He or she will also give you instructions about taking any new medicines.
  • If you take blood thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), or aspirin, be sure to talk to your doctor. He or she will tell you if and when to start taking those medicines again. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
  • Be safe with medicines. Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.
  • Your doctor may prescribe a blood thinner when you go home. This helps prevent blood clots. Be sure you get instructions about how to take your medicine safely. Blood thinners can cause serious bleeding problems.

Care of the catheter site

  • Keep a bandage over the spot where the catheter was inserted for the first day, or for as long as your doctor recommends.
  • Put ice or a cold pack on the area for 10 to 20 minutes at a time to help with soreness or swelling. Do this every few hours. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin.

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 severe trouble breathing.
  • You have sudden chest pain and shortness of breath, or you cough up blood.
  • Your groin is very swollen and you have a lump that is getting bigger under your skin where the catheter was put in.

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

  • You have severe pain in your leg, or it becomes cold, pale, blue, tingly, or numb.
  • 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 of the skin.
    • Red streaks leading from the area.
    • Pus draining from the area.
    • A fever.

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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