BACKGROUND: This study is the third in a series of investigations on the requisite length of time that patients should be restricted to bed after coronary arteriography or percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty using a femoral artery approach. METHODS: A prospective, experimental-control group design with randomization was used initially to compare the incidence of bleeding between patients who remained in bed for 4 hours and patients who remained in bed for 6 hours after sheath removal following percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty. RESULTS: Rapid changes in the healthcare environment led to nurses collecting complete data sets for the experimental group only. The experimental group (n = 51) was 73% male and 27% female; mean age was 57 years (SD = 11.4 years). Mean time in bed was 4.1 hours (SD = 0.27 hours). Most patients (98%) did not bleed from the femoral artery access site after remaining in bed for 4 hours following sheath removal. Ninety-two percent of patients required analgesics while in bed. Mean length of stay after the angioplasty was 1.4 days (SD = 0.79 days). Bleeding occurred in one subject and was related to multiple invasive procedures and an activated clotting time of greater than 200 seconds. CONCLUSIONS: Requisite time in bed after percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty has been reduced to 4 hours at the University of Virginia Medical Center, the same time required for patients undergoing cardiac catheterization. Discomfort after the procedure remains to be addressed.

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