Recovery After Stent: What To Expect

The field of medicine has become leaps and bounds more advanced within the past 50 years, especially in the field of cardiology and the treatment of heart attack and blood vessel occlusion.

Acute myocardial infarctions, better known as heart attacks, are amongst the leading causes of death. Thanks to medical innovation, the survival rate has drastically improved, with minimally invasive medical procedures like angioplasty and stenting being at the forefront.

Below is a closer look at everything you should know about stenting, including what the procedure is, when it is performed, and what to expect with recovery.

What Is a Stent Procedure?

Stenting and angioplasty are among the most common cardiac procedures performed in the United States. The very first coronary stent was placed in 1986, and since then, it has become an integral option for improving blood flow to the heart following a heart attack.

A stent procedure is a minimally invasive procedure used to treat narrow or blocked arteries in the heart, neck, legs, or other parts of the body. The procedure is done with a catheter and only requires a small incision into one of the major arteries.

A coronary angioplasty (also known as percutaneous coronary intervention) with stent placement is typically performed without general anesthesia, which means you will be awake, but local anesthesia and relaxants are utilized for patient comfort. The catheter is carefully inserted into your arteries until it is close to the suspected blockage.

Then an imaging technique known as an angiogram is utilized, where a contrast dye is injected to visualize the blockage with a CT scan. Continuous imaging is then utilized to place the stent in the occluded vessel and inflate the catheter to open up the artery and place the stent.

When Is a Stent Procedure Necessary?

A stent procedure may be necessary when a vital vessel of the body becomes completely or partially occluded. This blockage tends to come as a result of atherosclerosis or a buildup of plaque in the arteries that narrows them, reducing blood flow.

An acute ischemic episode, also known as a sudden blockage, may be caused by atherosclerosis compounded with a blood clot that causes the artery to become fully blocked.

When these vessels become blocked, it drastically lowers perfusion to the tissues, which can lead to cell death and irreversible damage. The placement of a catheter and stent is a quick and minimally invasive way of restoring blood flow and getting blood to the affected tissues.

Stents are most commonly used to restore blood flow during myocardial infarction, also known as a heart attack but may also be utilized to alleviate symptoms of advanced atherosclerosis and severely narrowed vital arteries such as the carotid artery.

Stenting may also be a viable preventative treatment option for individuals with an aortic aneurysm.

Stents are not only helpful for cardiac conditions, though — another, less common utilization of stents is in opening major airways in the lungs. While less common, these pulmonary stents work in a similar manner by holding open passageways to allow the movement of hair in and out of the lungs.

What Should You Expect After a Stent Procedure?

Stenting occluded arteries has greatly improved cardiovascular treatments for diseases like heart attacks, but this method isn’t without its share of drawbacks.

Below is a closer look at some of the symptoms you might expect after getting a stent.

Some Bruising Where Catheter Was Placed

Some of the most common complications come from the insertion site of the catheter. One of the most common among these is a bruise around the site of insertion.

This is a non-emergency and results from manipulating a long catheter in and out of the vessel. Bruising at the catheter insertion site tends to subside after a few days with proper wound care and guidelines provided by your healthcare team.


Soreness and discomfort are other common side effects of a stenting procedure that involves the site of insertion. Inserting the catheter into your arteries may cause irritation to the artery and lead to discomfort following its removal.

Generally, this discomfort is short-lived, and your physician may prescribe medication to help alleviate discomfort.


Fatigue is another common side effect of an angioplasty and stent procedure. This symptom isn’t all that bad as your body does need time to recover, and being fatigued helps to ensure that you avoid strenuous activities and gives your heart the time it needs to recover.

Getting plenty of rest and staying hydrated are ideal post-operation and tend to be a part of cardiologists' recommendations for recovery.

How Long Does Recovery Take After Stent Placement?

The exact recovery time following a stent placement can vary and depends on factors such as your health, heart health, the type of stent utilized, the number of stents used, and the reason for the procedure.

Other factors that can impact recovery time include your adherence to after-procedure care issued by your doctor, management of compounding health conditions like high blood pressure or heart failure, enrollment in a cardiac rehab program, and attendance of follow-up appointments.

In general, individuals that adhere to the specific recovery instructions provided by their healthcare team, such as avoiding certain activities to allow for proper healing, are able to resume normal activities within a week.

When Should You Call a Doctor During Stent Placement Recovery?

Cardiac catheterization is a common procedure, but it is still a medical procedure that carries its own unique set of risks. Below is a closer look at some warning signs you should look out for after a stent procedure.

For more specific information on signs to look out for, consult your cardiologist.

Chest Pains

Chest pain, also referred to as angina, is one of the early indications of a heart being in distress. Some causes of chest pain can be benign, but following a stent procedure, chest pain can be an early indication of a potentially life-threatening complication.

Redness, Pus, or Bleeding at Access Site

Any time the skin barrier is broken, there is a risk of complications like infection or bleeding. Proper wound care and monitoring are crucial following a stent procedure, as the procedure utilizes major arteries as a point of entry for the catheter.

A bleed for these major arteries can be a medical emergency as a lot of blood can be lost in a short period of time. Additionally, signs of infection at the site, like lasting redness or pus, can be problematic and should be looked at by a healthcare provider.


Another thing you should be on the lookout for is a fever. A fever is your body’s natural response to infection, and following a stent procedure could be indicative of a rare but potentially life-threatening complication referred to as coronary stent infection.

If your temperature becomes elevated following a stent implant, it may be a good idea to seek medical advice to rule out a coronary stent infection.

How Can You Support a Fast Recovery?

To support a fast recovery after a stent procedure, it's crucial to follow your doctor's instructions which may include taking medication as prescribed, avoiding certain activities, getting plenty of rest, staying hydrated, and managing stress.

Additionally, focusing on making positive lifestyle modifications can help to support your heart and its recovery. This includes eating a heart-healthy diet, exercising regularly, quitting smoking, and controlling any underlying health conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure.

To help patients recover from a cardiac procedure such as a stent or other cardiac problems, enrollment into a cardiac rehab program can be incredibly helpful.

Cardiac rehab focuses on helping patients improve their cardiovascular health through lifestyle modifications and health education, which can be just as important as the stent procedure itself for preventing future cardiac events.

Carda health is a virtual at-home cardiac rehab program that allows you to get your rehab in on your own time. You are paired with an exercise physiologist who will work with you to create a program tailored to you, considering your health history, fitness level, and needs.

The enrollment process is easy and can get you the help you need to make lasting lifestyle changes that will better support your heart.

The Bottom Line

A stent procedure is a minimally invasive procedure used to treat narrow or blocked arteries and improve blood flow. After the procedure, you can expect some side effects, such as bruising, soreness, and tiredness, but these should subside within a few days. If you experience any unusual symptoms, it’s important to contact your doctor immediately.

With proper post-op care, follow-up, and cardiac rehab with Carda Health, you can support fast and effective recovery from a stent and go back to living life as normal.


Angioplasty: Types, Procedure Details and Recovery | Cleveland Clinic

What to Expect After Getting a Stent | NHLBI, NIH

Early detection of a potentially fatal complication of coronary stent implantation using transthoracic two-dimensional-echocardiography Nawale JM, Bedmutha KR, Chavan RV, Chaurasia AS | J Indian Acad Echocardiogr Cardiovasc Imaging

NIH-funded studies show stents and surgery no better than medication, lifestyle changes at reducing cardiac events | National Institutes of Health

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