Cardiac stent recovery begins in the hospital immediately following the surgery. The patient must lie flat without bending the legs for several hours after the procedure to avoid the possibility of complications. It may be possible to go home the same day of the procedure, although an overnight stay in the hospital is more common. Before returning home, the medical staff will provide individualized instructions concerning activity limitations, dietary changes, and the proper use of prescribed medications. A doctor should be consulted with any questions or concerns about cardiac stent recovery or to report any complications.
While in the hospital, cardiac stent recovery involves close monitoring by the medical staff to make sure there are no developing complications from the procedure, such as bleeding or abnormal heart rates. Vital signs such as temperature and blood pressure are checked periodically, and blood tests may be ordered to check oxygen levels. A caregiver needs to be available to drive the patient home upon discharge from the hospital.
Medications such as antibiotics, pain relievers, and blood thinners may be prescribed for the cardiac stent recovery period. Mild discomfort for the first few days is considered normal, but severe or worsening pain should be reported to a doctor immediately. An identification card may be issued by the supervising physician recording information about the location of the stent and the date the procedure was performed. This card should be shown to any future doctors or dentists so that necessary precautions can be taken. Unless absolutely necessary, an MRI should not be performed due to the chances of the stent moving out of position.
Dietary and lifestyle changes may be recommended as part of cardiac stent recovery. Smoking is discouraged because it reduces the amount of oxygen in the blood and may cause additional blood vessel or heart damage. Those who are overweight may be encouraged to lose weight to take some of the strain off of the heart. Exercise is an important part of ongoing cardiac stent recovery, although strenuous physical activity may not be safe. A physical therapist can help create a safe and individualized exercise program.
In many cases, blood-thinning medications such as aspirin are needed for the remainder of life. The patient should keep all scheduled doctor's appointments so that any complications can be detected as early as possible. It is vital that all medical instructions are followed closely so that arterial damage that may require additional surgery does not recur.