What To Expect After a Stent Procedure
Image Caption : Stent in Coronary Artery : In angioplasty with stent placement, the blocked artery is widened by inflating a balloon inside of it. The balloon is removed and a tiny metal coil called a stent is left in place to keep it open.
What To Expect After a Stent Procedure
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.
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.
Stents help prevent arteries from becoming narrow or blocked again in the months or years after percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), also known 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.
The material on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Consult a licensed medical professional for the diagnosis and treatment of all medical conditions and before starting a new diet or exercise program. If you have a medical emergency, call 911 immediately.