Stents Living With a Stent
If you have a stent because of coronary heart disease or carotid artery disease, you are still at risk for heart attack or stroke. Learn the signs of a heart attack and signs of a stroke and call 9–1–1 if you or someone else needs medical help.
Receive routine follow-up care
It is important to get routine medical care if you have a stent. Talk with your healthcare provider about how often you should schedule office visits and blood tests.
- Discuss when you should follow up with specialists, such as a cardiologist or pulmonologist.
- Take medicines to prevent problems. Do not change the amount of your medicine or skip a dose unless your provider tells you to. You will need to take antiplatelet medicines, or blood thinners, to prevent blood clots from forming in the stents in your arteries. Your provider may prescribe these medicines for 1 year or more after getting a coronary stent. For carotid or peripheral artery stents, it may be 1 month or more. Antiplatelet medicines include aspirin, clopidogrel, dipyridamole, and ticlopidine. Bleeding is a possible side effect, which can make any additional surgery much riskier.
- Talk with your provider about when you can resume normal physical activity. It will depend on your condition before the stent procedure and the type of stent you receive.
Monitor your condition
- Bronchoscopy can check an airway stent about 4 to 6 weeks after placement.
- Chest X-ray or CT scan looks for signs of any complications from an airway stent.
- CT angiograph (CTA) or ultrasound makes sure a stent graft placed to treat an aortic aneurysm is not leaking or has moved. You will likely need imaging about 1 month after your procedure. If a leak or other problem is detected, you may need imaging tests again after 6 months or 1 year to re-check it. If there is a big leak, more surgery may be needed. You will likely need imaging tests throughout your life to monitor the stent graft.
- Referral to a specialist may be needed if you have symptoms related to your condition.
- Regular general exams check your overall physical and mental health.
Make healthy lifestyle changes
Your provider may recommend the following healthy lifestyle changes to reduce the chance of needing more procedures in the future or experiencing a heart attack or stroke:
- Aiming for a healthy weight
- Getting physically active
- Choosing heart-healthy foods
- Managing stress
- Quitting smoking, if you smoke
Watch for problems
Be on the lookout for complications from a coronary stent, carotid stent, or stent graft.
- Rarely, a blood clot can occur within the stent. Your risk of getting a blood clot is much higher if you stop taking your blood thinners before your provider says to do so. Blood clots can lead to life-threatening conditions, such as heart attack, stroke, and venous thromboembolism.
- Chest pain can be a symptom of restenosis, which develops when there is too much tissue growth within the portion of the artery where the stent is placed. It can lead to a heart attack if your stent is in a coronary artery. If this occurs in other arteries, restenosis may or may not cause symptoms. If restenosis does occur, you will need another procedure, including possibly both and the placement of another drug-eluting stent.
- Stent or stent graft failure (when a stent breaks within an artery) occurs occasionally. Rarely, a stent graft used to repair an aortic aneurysm or may move from where it was placed. Blood may also leak out of the graft. Symptoms may be similar to those you experienced before getting a stent, or you may have no symptoms. Your provider will use imaging to monitor your stent graft.
Watch for signs of problems from airway stents
You should call your provider right away if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Changes in your cough
- Coughing up blood
- High fever
- Persistent bad breath
- Problems breathing
The symptoms above may be caused by complications of your airway stenting procedure.
- Changes in the placement of the stent can occur and may require another procedure to fix or remove it.. This occurs more often with silicone stents. In rare cases, stents can become fractured or distorted.
- Lung infection is another possible complication from an airway stent.
- Mucus can become caught in the stent.
- Tissue can grow into the stent if the condition that caused your narrowed airway causes it to become blocked again. This occurs most often in the spaces between metal stents.