Coronary angioplasty with stenting in the management of blocked coronary arteries is a fairly standard and common procedure performed by many skilled cardiologists all over the world. But there are some rules that patients must follow after angioplasty. Doctors advise all their patients to follow these rules, but still, patients show some carelessness. Dr. Abhishek Vikram Singh, Cardiologist, Infinity Care Hospital Varanasi, explains that this list of advice after the stenting procedure, which can be called the rule of five or the rule of hands is essential for long-term results.
Rule No. 1: Take Your Medications Regularly: It is quite common for patients to be irregular or non-compliant with medicine—especially as the process goes on. There is a misconception that the drug can be discontinued once the procedure is successfully completed. Contrary to this belief, medications (at least blood thinners and cholesterol-lowering statins) are mandatory after stent implantation – as they prevent a significant life-threatening complication. such as stent thrombosis.
Rule No. 2: Don’t Ignore or Hide Symptoms: If after angioplasty the patient has any unusual discomforts such as chest pain, dyspnea or difficulty in breathing, it is always advisable to get an ECG done and consult a cardiologist. Having no symptoms – even if it occurs at a strange time or place – should not be overlooked – as any complication can be life-threatening in this group of patients.
Rule No. 3: Balance in Diet: There is a general belief that certain types of diet need to be discontinued after angioplasty. In a social context, it is extremely difficult for a person to abruptly stop a dietary pattern he or she has grown up with. It is much more logical to advise a balance in the existing diet – try and reduce overall dietary intake by 20-30 percent by replacing more undesirable foods with desirable foods. It must be remembered that the more strict a diet is advised, the less a patient will follow it!
Rule no. 4: Mid-range exercise after stenting procedure: No patient needs complete rest after stent implantation. Patients are advised to start moderate exercise such as walking on level ground immediately after angioplasty and gradually increase the intensity of the exercise. The patient can expect to return to the pre-disease state within a month after the stenting procedure. Heavy exercise such as lifting weights or walking on steep slopes should be avoided for about 4-6 weeks.
Rule No. 5: Go for Routine Screening: The purpose of post-angioplasty/stenting screening is to optimize treatment, detect adverse effects or complications, as well as control for risk factors. The frequency of showing may vary depending on the clinical condition and risk profile of the patient. They usually happen once a month – and should be followed as advised by a cardiologist.
Concluding, while there is an element of angioplasty/stenting to a technically successful procedure, following the procedure advice and recommendations is the key to good long-term outcomes. As a society, it is to be appreciated that even the slightest error in the implementation of the advice given in the follow-up can lead to undesirable consequences.