Recovery expectations from angiogram for 70-year-old?
August 2, 2013 9:57 PM   Subscribe

My mom is in great health and decent shape for a 70-year-old and just completed 3 weeks of travel where she showed great endurance. Then she came back and "flunked" a stress-test :(

The cardiologist has explained that her high blood pressure may explain the bad ekg and she may or may not have a blockage. He said an angiogram would give us a 100% accurate assessment of her situation and she agreed to that over other, less-sure tests.

The angiogram is scheduled for the 9th. I've read up on the procedure but I really don't know how quickly she'll be back to herself, and how much time I should expect to be waiting on her hand and foot. Also if a blockage is found and dealt with I'd expect her recovery to take longer, but how much longer?

Thanks so much for whatever information or anecdata you can offer.
posted by Anwan to Health & Fitness (11 answers total)
Best answer: If she's in great health, she'll probably only be down for a day or so, and even then, think about most of a day in the hospital, then the rest of that day at home but somewhat groggy (bring her soup and whatever she wants to drink, etc.), but pretty much back to normal by the next day. You're a good kid.
posted by infinitywaltz at 10:12 PM on August 2, 2013

Best answer: I had an angiogram last Thursday (8 days ago). I had two stents put in. The following Tuesday, I played in a softball game. (I probably should not have, but hey it was the playoffs.) I am in my young 50s.

The only real recovery from an angiogram is from the wound in the groin area where they go in. It depends on how they close the artery as well. I had a plug put in and because it was later in the day when the procedure was done, I stayed in the hospital overnight. This was good because I was able to lay perfectly still on my back while the wound closed. About 5 hours of stillness. The other issue associated with the wound is if your mother is put on blood thinners. I was put back on Plavix (I had two earlier stents) and continued to take aspirin so you don't clot as well.

I think your mom will be up and about in a day and will be real sore and tender in her groin for a few days. She will be restricted from lifting anything heavier than a gallon of milk for a week or two. Most people have no pain whatsoever in their chest heart area. There are no nerves inside your veins and arteries. I have heard of a very small percentage of cases where there is a little swelling of the artery when a stent is put in and the patient will notice some discomfort in the chest area for a few days. That is rare I am told and it did not happen to me either time.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:13 PM on August 2, 2013

Best answer: I would add too that since I had no one to take me to the hospital I drove there and drove home, but that was NOT recommended. IF they are scheduling this in a week, they do not think she is in very much danger at all. Both times my doc sent me to the hospital, do not pass go, do not collect $200.

Also, as infinitywaltz pointed out, you are a good daughter.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:16 PM on August 2, 2013

Best answer: My mom, in her 60s and not exactly in great health, has had a couple, i think both with stents. I honestly don't remember a lot of aftercare once she was out of the hospital. (Then again, that would've mostly fallen on my dad).

I've also had one (although mine was cerebral, looking at my brain) but while in my 20s. Once I got out of the hospital I was fine, except for the fact I wasn't allowed to lift anything heavier than the newspaper. But that was due to the fact they went in through the vein in my groin and lifting anything could potentially bust the clot and I'd apparently bleed profusely and dangerously. Also, I was not allowed to sign any legal documents for 24 hours because of all they Ativan they pumped me full of (technically, you are awake and responsive for the procedure, but not giving many f**ks. )

The biggest annoyance for me was spending the entire day in the hospital literally staring at the ceiling because of the risk to where the tiny incision was, I wasn't allowed to move much.
posted by cgg at 10:26 PM on August 2, 2013

Best answer: A blockage being found probably won't change recovery much if at all. The procedure is exactly the same either way, the only difference is that the stent is placed in the location of the blockage if one is found. Since a stent is just a sort of tiny little metallic slinky-type thing that holds a blood vessel open (and sometimes that releases a medication to help with that) it isn't really a physically noticeable thing usually, unless you have had angina (in which case it might be cured), but it sounds like your mother didn't have angina.

Also as JohnnyGunn mentioned, some people get stent-related pain that can persist even long after the procedure, but that is pretty rare, and it wouldn't impede recovery in the ways that you are talking about - i.e. being able to care for yourself - it just intermittently hurts.
IANYD, etc.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 11:29 PM on August 2, 2013

Best answer: Man, get the angioplasty. I knew something was going on in my heart, even kindof sortof suspected I'd had a heart attack (long story) and I'd be bopping around on my bike or swimming and I'd be like "Hey, I'm dying!" Nope,, not "Hey, I feel bad" or "Hey, I feel weak" -- 'Hey, I'm dying!" I took it to my primary care doc at that time, he did an ekg and found ... nothing. He arranged for stress test at The Austin Heart Hospital, they found ... nothing.

That was about ten years ago, then I had a bunch of heart attacks nine years ago. Had I been given an angioplasty, they'd absolutely found it, and fixed it, saved me tons of grief. It's much more commonly given today, which is A Good Thing, for real.

It's not that big a deal anymore. People are mostly conscious, talking to their doc while he's doing it. Speaking with my sister last week -- she's a nurse up in the Chicago area -- she told me they keep people overnight there, just to keep an eye on the bleeding, just generally make sure all is well.

Get the test. No need to be afraid of it. A win-win. Unlike my situation, you really will have all the information needed to make any decisions which need to be made.
posted by dancestoblue at 1:01 AM on August 3, 2013

Best answer: An angiogram/stents don't really take much "recovery" time - it depends on the approach, whether they go in through the femoral (groin) or radial (wrist) vessel. The interventionalist is the one who makes that decision. If the proceedure is relatively straightforward, with no complications, I wouldn't expect you'd be in a waiting on your mom hand and foot style situation.

There may be restrictions on things like when she can drive again, or about lifting heavy things (but there also may not be - it all depends). This site has a reasonably good overview:
posted by supercrayon at 3:19 AM on August 3, 2013

Best answer: My 80 something year old grandfather had a series of these kinds of procedures in the course of repairing an abdominal aortic aneurism. Despite being downright elderly, he recovered just fine. His only complication was that his kidneys are a little weak, so he had a couple days in the ICU while some kind of contrast agent got flushed out. Because of that, he was close to getting pneumonia, but they were able to get him on his feet before it became a problem.

My dad had an angiogram + plasty after a heart attack about 5 years ago, and I think he was back driving on his own within a week. And that's with ridiculously high blood pressure and atrial fibrillation that needed to be corrected.

The only real recovery effort in those procedures is the 24 or 48 hours after the procedure, and that's just about keeping the insertion site from popping a leak. (And monitoring for things like thrown clots.) But yes, these procedures really are done every day and are as routine as you can get. It is much better to get it done and know what's going on, as dancestoblue relates.
posted by gjc at 3:40 AM on August 3, 2013

Best answer: My 72 year old mother had it done, and then a stent put in, she was back home 2 days later, they kept her in only because she was Type II diabetic and her sugar levels went weird. She was living alone and looking after herself with twice daily drop in visits from family after that (which she didn't really need but made us feel better) and going solo by the end of the week. She was walking her usual hour or so a day from pretty much the forth day because she actual felt better after having the stent in than she did in the days before hand but she had been getting angina.

Heck she had a pacemaker put in 6 months later, and was running on about the same recovery schedule for that. They don't let you lounge around in hospitals now a days.
posted by wwax at 10:00 AM on August 3, 2013

Best answer: My father-in-law has had two stents put in and was back to work at his desk job within a couple of days (Friday procedure, at work on Monday). He mostly just rested but could take care of himself as far as bathing, making sandwiches, etc.
posted by bedhead at 10:25 AM on August 3, 2013

Response by poster: Many thanks, everyone. I marked everything as "best answer" since I really appreciate every bit of info and advice.
posted by Anwan at 9:41 PM on August 5, 2013

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