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Percutanerous Transluminal Coronary Angioplasty (PTCA)

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PTCA is a non-surgical procedure used to restore blood flow to narrowed arteries in the heart caused by arteriosclerosis (coronary artery disease). A balloon catheter is inserted into the narrowed artery and, once in position, is inflated for a short period of time to compress plaque against the artery wall. The balloon is then deflated and removed. PTCA is a treatment for arteriosclerosis it is not a cure. And it will not make an old heart attack scar go away.

It’s important to remember that arteriosclerosis is a progressive process and in many cases will continue to cause narrowing of the arteries. Inherited tendencies and life-style habits contribute to the development of the atherosclerotic process.

After PTCA

Following the procedure, you will be taken to a recovery area where you will be closely attended:

  • Your cardiac status will be watched on an electrocardiogram (EKG) monitor.
  • Your catheterization site (groin or arm) will be watched for signs of bleeding, and your pulse will be checked frequently.
  • You will be encouraged to drink fluids to flush the dye from your system (or you may have an IV to infuse fluids).
  • When the sheath is removed, manual pressure will be applied for at least 30 minutes (or until all signs of bleeding stop).

You will remain on bed rest for three to eight hours after the sheath is removed and bleeding stops. A nurse will then help you get out of bed and walk. You will probably be in the hospital a day or two before you are discharged by your physician.

When You Go Home

You cannot drive yourself home from the hospital. Since you will not be able to drive for 24 hours following your PTCA, please be sure to arrange in advance for someone to drive you home from the hospital.

You should take it easy for about a week after your PTCA. However, in some cases, your physician may allow you to return to work in one to two days. If the PTCA was performed because a heart attack was occurring, your activities will be limited for about four to six weeks.

Please remember:

Avoid heavy lifting, straining or vigorous leg activities until the PTCA site is healed (about 24 hours) because it may cause bleeding. If bleeding does occur, apply continuous pressure and call your physician at once.

You may remove the bulky dressing 24 hours after your heart PTCA, leaving a small bandage underneath to cover the puncture site. Please apply a new bandage with betadine ointment for two days, then leave open to air. Remember to keep the site clean and dry.

Because of the bending involved, please take showers instead of tub baths for 24 to 48 hours after your catheterization.

Some discomfort, discoloration and even a small knot are normal at the puncture site. However, redness, drainage and/or fever, which may be signs of an infection, should be reported to your physician immediately.

Recovery From PTCA

During your recovering from PTCA, please remember:

  • Take all medications as directed.
  • Eat a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet.
  • Do not smoke.
  • Walk daily.
  • Refrain from sex until the PTCA site is healed.

If you have any chest pain, take a nitroglycerine tablet and call your physician. If three nitroglycerine tablets do not relieve your pain, call 911 or have someone take you to the hospital immediately.

Keep all follow-up appointments with your physician and call to report any changes in your condition.

Most patients have no problems after a successful PTCA. Some, however, may experience restenosis, in which the narrowing in the coronary artery returns. This most often occurs within the first three to six months after PTCA. Restenosis can usually be treated successfully with a second PTCA.

Cardiovascular diagnostic and interventional procedures may cause unexpected problems, but serious and life-threatening problems are unusual. Your Florida Heart Group physician will discuss the potential risks and benefits in detail so you can both decide which treatment is best for you.

To learn more or to contact our practice, please call 407.894.4474 to request an appointment.