A stent is a mesh membrane that a surgeon inserts into an artery after an angioplasty (formally known as a percutaneous coronary intervention, or PCI). Its purpose is to strengthen and support weakened or damaged arterial walls and to improve blood flow.
Following the PCI, the doctor will remove the catheter that was used to place the stent and bandage the insertion site, sometimes placing a weight on the bandage to apply pressure to reduce bleeding. After the stent procedure, a bruise or knot may form at the site, and it may be sore for a while.
While you are in the hospital, you can expect:
- Regular tests of blood pressure and heart rate
- Monitoring of the insertion site for signs of bleeding or infection
- Aspirin and other medications to control pain and prevent clotting
The anti-clotting medication you will be prescribed after your stent procedure is a necessary precaution because if a clot forms and breaks free it can cause a stroke, heart attack, or other life-threatening condition. The length of time you will be taking these drugs can range from a month to a year or longer, depending on the type of stent that your doctor inserted.
Anti-clotting medications often prescribed after stent procedures, such as Effient, are classified as platelet aggregation inhibitors, or anti-platelets for short. They, along with aspirin, thin the blood to prevent platelets from clumping, or clotting, along the stent wall and creating a serious situation.
The anti-clotting medication Effient can help your stent recovery.
Once you have been released from the hospital and return home, you may be expected to:
- Continue taking the anti-clotting medication regularly after the stent procedure
- Limit strenuous activity or heavy lifting for a short while
- Have follow-up imaging tests if you have a fabric stent
- Change your diet
- Exercise regularly (once medically cleared)|
- Lose weight
- Find ways to reduce stress
- Quit smoking
Also, be sure to keep your doctor informed of any bleeding problem or excessive pain and pay attention to signs of an infection. There are a few other things to know during the heart stent recovery period:
- The risk of blood clots substantially increases if you stop taking the anticlotting medicine too early after the stent procedure.
- Stents do not cure arteriosclerosis or other cardiovascular diseases, so lifestyle changes are important.
- You may need to take other medications in addition to the anti-clotting drugs, and you may need to take aspirin for the rest of your life.
- You may need to postpone other surgeries until you are no longer taking your anti-clotting medication.
- Anti-clotting medications increase bleeding and may have other side effects; ask your doctor about the risks associated with them.
While all surgeries come with risks, a PCI and stent can be a life-saving procedure, adding countless healthy years to your life so long as you follow your doctor’s instructions and take Effient or similar medications as directed after your stent procedure.