Angioplasty is a form of treatment for coronary heart disease -- where your heart's arteries are blocked -- known as interventional cardiology. Interventional cardiology procedures involve the insertion of a thin tube known as a catheter to open the artery. A small, mesh-metal stent may be placed in the artery to keep it open, restoring blood flow to your heart. While angioplasty is not as invasive as an open-heart surgical procedure, it does signal aspects of your lifestyle have led to blockage developments in your heart. Following the procedure, your physician may recommend you begin an exercise program to improve your heart health.
Angioplasty is a special technique to treat heart disease that allows many patients to return home a day following surgery and to work about one week after surgery. Before you return home, however, your physician will give you instructions on how much exercise you can perform at this time. Although your blood is flowing more freely, the heart must adjust post-angioplasty, meaning an intense running session may not be appropriate immediately following the procedure. Your physician will likely recommend exercises like walking in short time increments -- anywhere from five to 15 minutes. He also may recommend exercises to prevent blood clots from forming while you lie in bed and recuperate. Examples include straight-leg raises, sitting on the edge of your bed and swinging your lower legs up and down and pointing and flexing the feet.
While your physician may establish an individual time frame with you for beginning exercise, angioplasty typically involves waiting at least one week before beginning a cardiac rehabilitation program or at-home aerobic exercise, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Strength training typically is initiated two to four weeks after beginning aerobic exercise.
Your physician may recommend cardiac rehabilitation following angioplasty, particularly if you haven't been exercising prior to the procedure. These programs focus on the proper ways to exercise and ensure your safety because medical professionals monitor you. Cardiac rehabilitation will be a blend of safety instructions -- such as how to breathe to get the most air to your lungs, aerobic exercise and possibly strength training. Aerobic exercises may include walking on a treadmill, riding a stationary bicycle or using an elliptical machine. These exercises are all low-impact, yet beneficial for your heart.
Following an uncomplicated angioplasty procedure, you are considered a low-risk cardiac patient. This means you can engage in strength-training exercises. Strength training is recommended after angioplasty because of its overall benefits to your health, including stronger muscles and increased bone density. The Cleveland Clinic recommends your strength-training session consist of eight different exercises and 10 to 15 repetitions. Following angioplasty, it's best to start with either no weights, lightweight dumbbells about 1 to 3 lb., or a resistance band. Exercises include leg extensions, bicep curls, wall pushups or half-squats.