Post Stent Procedure: 5 Steps to Following an Exercise Plan

A stent is a medical device that is implanted to improve blood flow through an occluded or partially occluded artery. These devices are commonly used to treat coronary artery disease (CAD), acute myocardial infarction, or a severe plaque buildup in the coronary artery, which supplies the heart with blood. 

After receiving a stent, it’s important to support long-term recovery by making positive lifestyle modifications to prevent future cardiac events. Exercise tends to be at the top of the priority list for post-stent recovery.

Let’s take a closer look at a basic post-stent exercise plan, what it does for your body, and why you should consider cardiac rehabilitation with Carda Health following an angioplasty and stent procedure. 

Is It Safe To Exercise After a Stent Procedure?

A stent procedure is a minimally invasive cardiac procedure designed to restore blood flow to the heart — but it will not solve all your problems overnight. 

Many people who receive a stent view the procedure as a wake-up call. They may want to start making changes for the better, but it is essential to understand that each person is different, and exercise is not always a safe option. 

The safety of exercise after a stent procedure is best determined by your cardiologist, who can look at factors such as your health history, current health conditions, and how well your procedure went to determine if exercise is right for you. 

Most people are encouraged to live a more heart-healthy lifestyle, which often includes aerobic exercise. Ultimately, it is up to your care team to determine if these can be done in a safe manner. 

How Should You Follow a Post-Stent Procedure Exercise Plan?

Exercising after a stent procedure requires you to have some degree of knowledge about the cardiovascular system and the limitations of your own body. This is a major reason that most people enroll in a cardiac rehab program led by an exercise physiologist. 

An exercise physiologist is a trained professional who can create tailored exercise programs to suit n individual’s needs, medical history, and fitness levels. Below is a closer look at five common techniques included in a cardiac rehab exercise program

1. Warm Up With Light Aerobic Exercise 

Aerobic exercise is a great way to get your heart pumping. It can also place a small amount of strain on your cardiovascular system, which helps it adapt and get better. While these exercises are invaluable to a heart recovery exercise program, it is important to ease into them by starting with a light warm-up. 

Warming up with light aerobic exercise can help slowly bring your heart rate up so that it is better prepared for more strenuous exercises. Some light aerobic warmups can include walking in place, taking a walk, or riding a stationary bike at a gingerly pace. Generally, these warmups are done in every session. 

2. Incorporate Regular Aerobic Exercise

Regular aerobic exercise plays a crucial role in any successful cardiac rehab program. Aerobic exercise helps support cardiovascular health, working to minimize risk factors for conditions like cardiovascular disease, peripheral artery disease, and heart attacks. 

Aerobic exercises can include walking, speed walking, cycling, and any other activity that elevates heart rate and cardiac effort. Placing this short-term strain on the cardiovascular system can help it become more resilient. 

When done on a regular basis, aerobic exercise can significantly strengthen the heart and blood vessels, which can reduce the chances of future cardiac events over time. 

3. Try Strength Training Two Days Per Week

Strength training is another type of exercise that is commonly utilized in a cardiac rehab program. The main goal of cardiac rehab is to first improve cardiovascular health, but it also aims to improve quality of life.

Musculoskeletal strength plays a major role in your mobility and ability to perform everyday tasks. If muscles are not worked on a regular basis, they can shrink and lose strength. Strength training can help to combat decreased muscle mass, which can help reduce chances of injury, increase mobility, and be more coordinated. 

Strength training for cardiac rehab is not as intense as traditional strength training you would normally see in a gym. It tends to focus more on functional strength than bodybuilding. Exercises involving resistance bands, bodyweight exercises, and lightweight lifting tend to be a part of strength training for cardiac rehab. 

4. Include Stretching and Flexibility Training

Flexibility tends to decline with age, but there are things you can do to help reduce muscle tightness, including stretching. Stretching and flexibility are important to your overall well-being, ability to perform everyday tasks, and reduced risk of injury. 

For cardiac rehab, stretching and flexibility training tends to be focused on major muscle groups to help improve mobility, reduce the risk of injury, and improve blood flow. Some stretches can include calf stretches, hamstring stretches, quad stretches, and range of motion exercises of the arms. 

5. Stick With Low to Moderate Intensity Exercise

Following a heart stent procedure, the last thing you want is to compromise or overstrain your heart. This is why it is important that you stick with exercises that are well within safe limits. 

Safety is of the utmost importance, and this is why many heart procedure patients choose to undergo monitored exercise and training from an exercise physiologist. Working with a trained professional can allow you to focus more on exercising while also ensuring that the exercises you are doing are in the best therapeutic zone for your cardiac health. 

What Are the Benefits of Exercise After a Stent Procedure?

Cardiac rehabilitation exercise programs are commonly encouraged by physicians for their many positive impacts on long-term outlook and recovery. Individuals that participate in a cardiac rehab program following a cardiac event or surgery tend to have a lower rate of rehospitalization and report better overall quality of life. 

While these programs can have positive clinical impacts, what exactly can you expect in terms of benefits? The answers can vary from person to person, but some of the most common benefits that people experience can include improvements in mobility, improvements in endurance, an increase in strength, and the ability to make a fuller recovery. 

Are There Risks Associated With Post-Stent Procedure Exercise?

As with anything in life, there is always an element of risk when exercising after a stent procedure. 

A stent procedure is commonly necessary to treat a heart attack, which tends to be the result of compounding cardiovascular issues. Some cardiac issues can react poorly to elevations in cardiac effort from exercise and may even contribute to complications such as heart attack, cardiac arrest, and shortness of breath. 

This is why it is imperative to follow the instructions and recommendations set forth by your care team. Even better, find a cardiac program that fits your needs and work with those trusted professionals. Many cardiac rehab programs offer real-time vitals monitoring to ensure that your exercises are within your body's limits. 

Can High-Intensity Exercise Damage Your Stent?

High-intensity exercises are a popular form of exercise, but they may not be ideal for individuals recovering from a heart stent procedure. Heart stents are medical devices implanted into a major artery of the heart, and pushing yourself too hard may cause complications to the stent. 

Sticking with lower-intensity exercises following a stent procedure can help prevent damage or future cardiac events. Pushing beyond these intensity levels may cause excess cardiac stress. 

Listening to your care team and exercise physiologist is the best way to keep yourself safe and ensure your hard work and effort yield positive results.

The Bottom Line

Having a stent procedure can be daunting. But it’s important to remember that, through some hard work and targeted exercises, you can make positive changes to your cardiovascular health and get back to your everyday life. 

If you are post-stent procedure, consider Carda Health for your cardiac rehab. Carda Health is a virtual cardiac rehab provider that gives you everything a traditional cardiac rehab program offers, all from the comfort of your own home. 

Carda provides monitored exercise, tailored exercise programs, health education, access to an exercise physiologist, and heart-healthy lifestyle guidance. These benefits can help you get the most out of recovery and work towards making lifelong habits that stick.


The importance of stretching | Harvard Health

Participation in Cardiac Rehabilitation, Readmissions and Death After Acute Myocardial Infarction | NCBI

Safety of early exercise training after elective coronary stenting in patients with stable coronary artery diseas | NCBI

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