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Coronary artery disease (CAD) is a leading cause of death worldwide, and percutaneous transluminal coronary angiography (PTCA) and/or percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI; angioplasty) are commonly used to diagnose and/or treat the obstructed coronaries. Exercise-based rehabilitation is recommended for all CAD patients; however, most guidelines do not specify when exercise training should commence following PTCA and/or PCI. Catheterization can result in arterial dysfunction and acute injury, and given the fact that exercise, particularly at higher intensities, is associated with elevated inflammatory and oxidative stress, endothelial dysfunction and a pro-thrombotic milieu, performing exercise post-PTCA/PCI may transiently elevate the risk of cardiac events. This review aims to summarize extant literature relating to the impacts of coronary interventions on arterial function, including the time-course of recovery and the potential deleterious and/or beneficial impacts of acute versus long-term exercise. The current literature suggests that arterial dysfunction induced by catheterization recovers 4-12 weeks following catheterization. This review proposes that a period of relative arterial vulnerability may exist and exercise during this period may contribute to elevated event susceptibility. We therefore suggest that CAD patients start an exercise training programme between 2 and 4 weeks post-PCI, recognizing that the literature suggest there is a 'grey area' for functional recovery between 2 and 12 weeks post-catheterization. The timing of exercise onset should take into consideration the individual characteristics of patients (age, severity of disease, comorbidities) and the intensity, frequency and duration of the exercise prescription.
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