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What To Expect After a Stent Procedure

Recovery

After either type of stent procedure (for arteries narrowed by plaque or aortic aneurysms), your doctor will remove the catheter from your artery. The site where the catheter was inserted will be bandaged.

A small sandbag or other type of weight may be put on top of the bandage to apply pressure and help prevent bleeding. You'll recover in a special care area, where your movement will be limited.

While you're in recovery, a nurse will check your heart rate and blood pressure regularly. The nurse also will look to see whether you're bleeding from the insertion site.

Eventually, a small bruise and sometimes a small, hard "knot" will appear at the insertion site. This area may feel sore or tender for about a week.

You should let your doctor know if:

  • You have a constant or large amount of bleeding at the insertion site that can't be stopped with a small bandage
  • You have any unusual pain, swelling, redness, or other signs of infection at or near the insertion site

Common Precautions After a Stent Procedure

Blood Clotting Precautions

After a stent procedure, your doctor will likely recommend that you take aspirin and another anticlotting medicine. These medicines help prevent blood clots from forming in the stent. A blood clot can lead to a heart attack, stroke, or other serious problems.

If you have a metal stent, your doctor may recommend aspirin and another anticlotting medicine for at least 1 month. If your stent is coated with medicine, your doctor may recommend aspirin and another anticlotting medicine for 12 months or more. Your doctor will work with you to decide the best course of treatment.

Your risk of blood clots significantly increases if you stop taking the anticlotting medicine too early. Taking these medicines for as long as your doctor recommends is important. He or she may recommend lifelong treatment with aspirin.

If you're considering surgery for some other reason while you're on these medicines, talk to your doctor about whether it can wait until after you've stopped the medicine. Anticlotting medicines may increase the risk of bleeding.

Also, anticlotting medicines can cause side effects, such as an allergic rash. Talk to your doctor about how to reduce the risk of these side effects.

Other Precautions

You should avoid vigorous exercise and heavy lifting for a short time after the stent procedure. Your doctor will let you know when you can go back to your normal activities.

Metal detectors used in airports and other screening areas don't affect stents. Your stent shouldn't cause metal detectors to go off.

If you have an aortic fabric stent, your doctor will likely recommend followup imaging tests (for example, chest x ray) within the first year of having the procedure. After the first year, he or she may recommend yearly imaging tests.

Lifestyle Changes

Stents help prevent arteries from becoming narrow or blocked again in the months or years after percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), sometimes referred to as coronary angioplasty. However, stents aren't a cure for atherosclerosis or its risk factors.

Making lifestyle changes can help prevent plaque from building up in your arteries again. Talk with your doctor about your risk factors for atherosclerosis and the lifestyle changes you'll need to make.

Lifestyle changes may include changing your diet, quitting smoking, being physically active, losing weight, and reducing stress. You also should take all medicines as your doctor prescribes. Your doctor may suggest taking statins, which are medicines that lower blood cholesterol levels.

For more information about lifestyle changes, go to the treatment section of the Health Topics Atherosclerosis article.

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Clinical trials are research studies that explore whether a medical strategy, treatment, or device is safe and effective for humans. To find clinical trials that are currently underway for Stents, visit www.clinicaltrials.gov.


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The NHLBI updates Health Topics articles on a biennial cycle based on a thorough review of research findings and new literature. The articles also are updated as needed if important new research is published. The date on each Health Topics article reflects when the content was originally posted or last revised.