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Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI) (cont.)

How do patients recover after percutaneous coronary intervention?

Patient Comments

Patients usually recover well after percutaneous coronary intervention. They are monitored and observed after the procedure. About 4–12 hours later, any catheter equipment still in the skin and artery are removed and pressure is held by hand or by clamps or "sandbags" for about 20 minutes to prevent bleeding into the catheter insertion site. Alternatively, some patients may have the artery sutured shut where the catheter was placed. Blood clots can form at the PCI site that may cause blockage. Patients are treated with blood thinning anti-platelet agents such as clopidogrel bisulfate (Plavix) and aspirin. Most patients will be taking anti-platelet medication indefinitely. Patients are often discharged within 24 hours after percutaneous coronary intervention and are cautioned not to do any vigorous activity or lift over about 20 lbs for about one to two weeks. Some patients may be referred to a rehabilitation center, but most patients are not, and can go back to work (if work is not physically intensive) in about three days after percutaneous coronary intervention.

What are the long-term results of percutaneous coronary intervention?

As the percutaneous coronary intervention technique has advanced from balloon, to balloon plus stent, to balloon plus drug-eluting stent, the long-term results have improved so recurrent narrowing or blockage occurs in less than 10% of patients. If there is no evidence of recurrence of narrowing or blockage (for example, a negative stress test) after about12 months, the majority of stented coronary arteries remain open in the stented area for many years. Unfortunately, other areas of the artery may require an additional stent in the future. Also, patients that fail to take their prescribed anti-platelet medication and continue a lifestyle that promotes coronary artery cholesterol accumulation and arterial narrowing are more likely to have either stent failure or have additional arterial areas develop narrowing or blockage.

Medically reviewed by Robert J. Bryg, MD; Board Certified Internal Medicine with subspecialty in Cardiovascular Disease


"Percutaneous Coronary Intervention." Updated Jun 25, 2015.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/20/2017

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