What is a Heart Stent?
A heart stent is a small mesh tube that is used for treatment and support of weak and narrow arteries(4). Heart stent is used in the coronary angioplasty procedure or the procedure of percutaneous coronary intervention. A heart stent supports the inner walls of the weak artery for years after the coronary angioplasty procedure. Though stents are beneficial in treating narrow or weak arteries, it is very much essential for a person to follow some important precautions after getting a heart stent. In this article, we will talk about some of the precautions that need to be maintained after getting a heart stent.
Risks Involved With Heart Stent Procedure
Before we talk about the precautions after getting heart stent, let us know about some of the risks that are involved with the heart stent procedure.
The coronary angioplasty or percutaneous coronary intervention or PCI, carries risks of some serious complications, such as blood clots or thrombosis, arrhythmias or irregular heartbeats, bleeding and infection. Some other risks or complications of heart stent include re-stenosis. Re-stenosis is generally defined as an angiographically demonstrated reduction of the blood vessel diameter by about 50%.(1)
Stent thrombosis is also another risk involved with heart stent procedure(5). When a patient having coronary stent starts developing acute symptoms, there is a possibility of stent thrombosis, which is a life-threatening complication. The annual incidence of stent thrombosis is less than 1%.(2)
Precautions After Heart Stent
Now, let us discuss about some of the precautions to be maintained after heart stent.
Medications for Treating Blood Clots:
Blood clots or thrombosis might be form around the stent and it may block the flow of blood or may break free and result in a blockage elsewhere, which can cause a heart attack or even death(6). In order to prevent this complication, doctors usually prescribe anti-platelet therapy. It is known that those patients who receive a heart stent take aspirin and one more anti-clotting medication for about a month and these medicines help in preventing blood clots.
It must be noted that the risk of thrombosis increases significantly if you stop taking the anti-clotting medications early. Your doctor would thus recommend you to take lifelong treatment with aspirin after getting a heart stent.
The dual anti-platelet therapy study has shown that aspirin along with a thienopyridine beyond one year subsequent to the stent placement, as compared with only aspirin therapy, reduced the stent thrombosis significantly(7, 8) and also major cardiovascular incidents; however, it was found to be associated with an increased bleeding risk.(3)
Apart from this, anti-clotting drugs even result in side effects, such as an allergic skin rash(9). You need to talk to your doctor about reducing these kinds of risks.
Lifestyle Changes After Heart Stent:
Though heart stents prevent arteries from getting narrowed or getting blocked once again in months or years after the coronary angioplasty procedure; they are, however, not a cure for atherosclerosis or the risk factors associated with it. You can make some lifestyle changes that can be considered to be some kind of precautions that helps in preventing the plaque buildup in the arteries once again.
These lifestyle changes include: quitting smoking, changing your diet, losing excess weight, remaining physically fit and active and also reducing mental stress(10). Apart from this, you also need to take your prescribed medications regularly as prescribed by your doctor.
Taking Care of Your Heart Stent & Other Precautions:
You need to take precautions for taking care of your stent. Below are some of them.
- Keep the area of insertion dry, at least for 2 days.
- Watch properly for any bleeding and also infection. You need to consult your doctor if there is any bleeding or infection.
- Make sure you take enough of water.
- Avoid doing vigorous exercise and lifting heavy objects for some time after the heart stent procedure. You can go back to your regular activities once your doctor prescribes you about the same.
- Avoid sex for about one week after the procedure of coronary angioplasty.
- You must also treat any other kind of diseases, such as high blood pressure or diabetes.
- Do not smoke for at least 24 hours after getting a heart stent. It would be better if you quit smoking.
- Try to reduce stress and seek help whenever required.
So, we are now aware of some of the precautions after heart stent. However, if you suffer any kind of complication after the procedure, do let your physician known about it and make sure that you keep follow-up appointments with your healthcare provider.
- Are Heart Stents Permanent?
- Are Heart Stents Dangerous?
- Can Heart Stents Fail and Cause Re-blockage in Patients?
- Heart Stent Failure Symptoms