Cardiac catheterization and stent: Been there?

So, I spent Pi Day (last Friday) in the hospital. Following a stress test I was taken by ambulance to another hospital for catheterization and intervention (a stent). My test was Thursday, the procedure Friday, and I was discharged Saturday. Technology is fucking awesome. I’m doing great today and hope to be ok’d to return to work in a few days.

It began with acute chest pain a month ago. I was feeding our horses on an extremely cold morning and I blamed the pain on the extreme cold. When I came back into the house, the pain gradually diminished. Part denial, part knowing someone with asthma who has attacks in extreme cold. I woke up with pain a few days later, but thought it was heartburn (in my defense I am on a calcium channel blocker for my hypertension predisposing me to heartburn due to GERD).

I began taking Mylanta at bedtime and it seemed to clear up. I still hadn’t mentioned anything to my gf. When the episodes continued to happen, I called my PCP. He did an EKG (normal), suggested Mylanta, but he scheduled me for a stress test as a precaution. Guess I’m lucky I made it till the test. Embarrassingly, I’ll admit my dad died at 54 years of age in his sleep from an acute myocardial infarction. I’m 56, and thought I was out of the woods. He smoked tobacco his whole life, I’ve never used tobacco.

TLDR version: Have you had a heart cath, and if so could you share your experiences? Specifically how long till you were allowed to return to work and whether or not you had any further pain since the procedure (I haven’t but I’m kinda nervous about that). Are you on Plavix? I am, but apparently there is some controversy.

Thanks for reading!:slight_smile:

I had two stents put in just shy of three years ago. I had been walking and/or going to the gym and doing the treadmill for a year or so prior to this, and noticed chest pains while doing the treadmill — not severe, but certainly noticeable.


Like you, I never smoked, though up until a couple of years previous I had led a fairly sedentary life. And it’s not that my diet was particularly bad…I just ate more than I should.

Tests revealed two blockages in major heart arteries: one 98%, one 80%. The doc said I was very close to having to undergo a bypass, but in the end they went the stent route.

My operation was performed on a Thursday, and I was discharged from the hospital the next afternoon. I spent the weekend at home and returned to work Monday. I never experienced any further pain once the operation was complete. Actually, the worst part for me was having to lie perfectly still on my back for six hours immediately following the procedure. That was pure hell. Once I was able to move again, I was fine.

Since the operation, I’ve not had any problems at all. I’ve been taking Effient, which is a newer generation of blood thinner, and haven’t had any side effects from it. I started on one pill a day, but that was cut back a year ago to one every other day.

So (no pun intended) take heart!

No experience, but just wanted to say I’m so glad you made it to the stress test, too!

Thanks! I have a severe case of reverse-hypochondria. When my gallbladder needed removed, I knew that was what was going on, but I spent 48 hours in agony thinking it was “a virus”, then I realized my sclera were yellow.

I had 85% blockage of left anterior descending coronary artery.

I was out of bed in an hour, thanks to a collagen plug in my femoral artery. I take it you just had manual compression done? They told me that prior to plugs prolonged bed rest post procedure was the norm.

I had a stent last year. My doctor put it in without general anesthetic, and kept me in the hospital overnight for observation. I forgot about having to lie flat, but I think that was for only about two hours. I fell in love with my nurse. In the morning he looked at my charts, and sent me home, which was about a half-mile walk and then up the stairs, and I felt perfectly normal. I’ll be on a blood thinner for a year or so.

I was given just a smidge of versed and fentanyl. I was worried because I didn’t feel the drugs at all. But the catheterization was pain free, and I could see the screen showing the fluoroscopy!

Pittsburgh trivia: the procedure was done at Presbyterian Hospital, which sits at the top of a steep hill from in Oakland. The hill’s nickname? Cardiac Hill :slight_smile:

No stents, but I’ve had a couple of heart caths (for ablation procedures). Like DChord568 said, the worst part was laying flat on my back for several hours after the procedure (especially since I basically always puke after general anesthesia). I was out of the hospital within 24 hours and back to work in 72. No pain, though I got a heck of a bruise from the second one.

Was your general anesthesia due to the ablation?

I’m friends with a couple who both have cardiac problems (and he’s had two stents) and in the last month, have gone along to the hospital twice with them to keep company during his & her caths - about two weeks apart.

In both cases, they were in at about 9 am, and out in time for dinner (albeit perhaps a late dinner) the same day. Neither reported pain related to the procedure itself, except my friend because very uncomfortable with lower back spasms lying on her back for hours after the procedure. They gave her something for the pain, I don’t remember what, and she drifted off to la-la land.

Our center is now doing a significant number of caths through the radial (wrist) artery. No lying flat afterwards, I presume.

The cardiology fellow mentioned that prior to the procedure. My doctor chose femoral artery for me. He mentioned some pros/cons. From what I gathered femoral allows a larger size cath, and the radial requires an uncomfortable brace post.

My funniest moments (extreme nervous humor). When the cardiologist told me the results of my stress test, I guess I looked shocked. He took my hand and asked if I was ok. I said yes, but I had just bought some green bananas. The nurse cracked up; the doc gave her a stern look.

At Presbyterian Hospital a nurse asked if I had any spiritual needs. I requested a Ouija Board.

It took every bit of self control not to kid around while a nurse shaved me.

During the first procedure, they somehow managed to get the tip of the catheter wrapped around one of my valve strings. They had a rather difficult time removing it and put me under for it (I almost ended up in the OR). They didn’t complete the ablation, so I had to go in a second time. For that one I think they put me under as a precautionary measure. As far as I know, they usually don’t use general anesthesia for ablation.

In both cases I was awake for the first part of the procedure (inserting the cath and getting positioned).

I couldn’t help myself. I told the nurse that this was probably the most expensive shave job I’ve ever had.

I half wonder if the doctor put me under when he got annoyed with all the questions I was asking (“how many of these do you do a year?”, “is that leaded glass you’re behind?”, “how much of a radiation dose do you get from this?”, etc.).

Ouch! Were they ablating to correct an arrhythmia? Successful?

Atrial fibrillation and tachycardia caused by Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome. And yeah, they were successful the second time around! Been several years and zero problems. I had been having episodes every few months prior.

I had a heart attack about four and a half years ago. I’ve mentioned a few things about it here before.

Everything went very well from the moment I entered the hospital through my discharge from the ICU. The guy manning the receiving desk saw my face and slammed a button - I didn’t even need to tell them why I was there and they were readying a team to take me to the nearest hospital with a cardiac interventionist. The ambo team was cordial, professional, and very fast. When they wheeled me into the cardiac unit or whatever, they passed another ambo team who had brought someone else in. As they did so, one of my guys said, “Broke the fucking record getting here!” and several high-fives were had as we passed.

The interventionist and his team were truly amazing. It is a rare and inspiring experience to see such excellence in action. They calmly and efficiently told me what I needed to know, and did what they needed to do. I was shaved within a minute. Within seconds of feeling the angio-dealie enter my leg I was watching a tube enter my heart on the monitor.

They put in two med-eluting stents, end to end. It was painless, and there was no general anesthesia. I spent some time in ICU recovering.

Afterwards, I was recovered enough to go for long walks within days. They had me start on cardio rehab and put me on meds to control blood pressure, cholesterol, etc.

There have been no further heart issues. However, I did develop a certain amount of anxiety about my heart, which was exacerbated by a pulled chest muscle (not sure how I did that), GERD, and esophageal spasms (related to the GERD), all of which felt like, to me, something was wrong with my heart again. Once all of those issues were identified and treated, I was fine.

I had known for many years that some day I’d need to have my aortic valve replaced. It runs in my mother’s side of the family. A few years ago I started seeing a cardiologist, and regularly having tests done. He told me that when my aortic valve got as small as 1 square centimeter, it would have to be replaced. Eventually it was down to 1.03 cm, so we scheduled the surgery for August 20, 2012.

It’s routine to have a heart catheterization test a month before valve replacement therapy, so I went in to have the test in late July. I had the test on a Friday morning and went home the next day, with no ill effects. Of course I hated lying flat all that time. What the test showed was that not only did I need a new aortic valve, but I also needed quadruple bypasses. The blockages were, so far, asymptomatic; even my cardiologist was surprised. So on August 20, I had the surgery for the valve and the bypasses. I got a bovine valve and venal bypasses from my legs and chest. The areas on my inner thighs, where the veins were harvested, are still a little tender.

I had everything done at the Cleveland Clinic. When I met the surgeon, a few weeks prior to the surgery, I told him that even if I’d lived on the other side of the world, I’d still have the surgery done at the Cleveland Clinic. Good thing I live here.

:eek: Your post, especially these lines, reminds me scarily of . . .

Thank you for sharing your experience.:slight_smile: