News & Events

Added to My Toolbox
Removed from My Toolbox
Added to My Toolbox
Removed from My Toolbox
Apr 17, 2012

Follow PCI Procedure with Physical Activity

Patients may significantly increase their physical activity and ultimately reduce their risk of complications and death by nearly 25%.

Percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) is a non-surgical procedure used to open narrowed arteries in the heart. Although PCI—also known as angioplasty—has become increasingly safe and effective in recent years, more than 20% of patients experience complications within 1–2 years following the procedure. Despite the fact that exercising regularly can reduce risk of complications and death by as much as 25%, most patients who undergo PCI do not engage in regular physical activity in the years following their procedure.

Because of the benefits associated with exercise after PCI, researchers recently tested incorporating positive-affect and self-affirmation to motivate increased physical activity. This study, published by the Archives of Internal Medicine, involved a total of 342 patients, each of whom were randomized to receive either standard patient education or positive-affect intervention, and followed for one year. Researchers found that patients receiving the positive-affect intervention were nearly twice as likely to reach their physical activity goals in 12 months than those in the control group receiving standard care.

So what made the difference? In this study, the patients were provided with not only standard education on exercise but were taught about self-affirmation—drawing on past accomplishments to make an individual feel proud. Those in the intervention group also received motivational phone calls and small gifts that encouraged positive affect, which increases the enjoyment of tasks and helps promote positive thinking. Based on the success of this intervention, similar programs may be used to help promote physical activity. By providing this extra support, patients may significantly increase their physical activity and ultimately reduce their risk of complications and death by nearly 25%.

Questions for You to Consider

  • How much exercise do patients need after percutaneous coronary intervention PCI to reduce risk for complications?

  • Guidelines for care after PCI advise 30–60 minutes of physical activity on most—preferably all—days of the week.
  • What are the most common complications of PCI?
  • The most common complication from PCI is blood clotting, despite efforts to reduce this risk through the use of blood-thinning medications. Risk of heart attack is about 1–2% in patients undergoing PCI. Although most PCI procedures are successful, about 1–2% of procedures may fail and require emergency coronary artery bypass graft surgery.