Heart Health Cardiovascular Procedures

What Do I Do After I Have a Stent?

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Summary & Participants

Stenting is a common procedure used to keep clogged arteries open. To ensure long-term success additional treatments are necessary after surgery. Learn more about the options.

Medically Reviewed On: July 21, 2012

Webcast Transcript

ANNOUNCER: Stenting is a common procedure used to keep clogged arteries open. Once a stent is inserted, the treatment of the diseased artery doesn’t stop there. In addition to the stent, lifestyle changes and medications are necessary for long-term success.

ROBERT S. SCHWARTZ, MD, FACC: What you do after a stent has been placed is very important. It’s almost as important as what the doctor does while the stent is being placed. First and foremost, take your medicines. There’s two very important medicines that virtually all doctors prescribe after a stent has been placed. One is just plain old aspirin. The other is another drug called clopidogrel. Or the common name is called Plavix. These drugs are important because they stop the formation of blood clots inside the stent.

A blood clot that forms inside the stent is very important, because when it happens, it usually goes complete, the artery is blocked off, the patient has a heart attack. So first and foremost, take those medicines. That’s very important. If they doctor gives them to you, they sometimes are difficult to take, but it’s a very important thing to do.

SPENCER B. KING, MD, MACC: The other point is that everybody who gets stents put in has atherosclerosis. They’ve got coronary artery trouble, and therefore they need to be on preventive therapy, and this usually involves treatment of their cholesterol, their lipids, their blood pressure, their diabetes, if they have it. So even if a stent is put in, it doesn’t mean that the patient is finished with the treatment. Preventive therapy is critical in those patients.

ROBERT S. SCHWARTZ, MD, FACC: The main thing from your standpoint as a patient is to look and be certain that you’re getting no more chest pain, no more shortness of breath, if the symptoms that brought you to the doctor in the first place have not returned.

If they do return, it’s usually not an emergency. It’s not anything dangerous, typically. But it is important to get back in to your doctor, because it may mean that scar tissue has grown inside the stent, and the stent may be gradually plugging up with scar tissue something that can be fixed relatively easily today.