What should you do after stent placement?

Here's what to do if you have a stent:

  • Take aspirin. Your doctor will recommend you take aspirin daily and indefinitely to reduce the risk of clotting inside the stent. Follow your doctor's instructions on how much and what type of aspirin to take.
  • Take additional anti-clotting medication. People with stents are given prescription anti-clotting medications, such as clopidogrel (Plavix). The American Heart Association and Food and Drug Administration recommend that people who have drug-eluting stents continue to take medications, such as clopidogrel, to reduce the risk of stent clotting for at least one year after the stent is inserted. For most people with bare-metal stents, additional anti-clotting medication is only recommended for one month after stent placement.

    Ask your cardiologist how long you should take anti-clotting and other medications. The answer will depend on your type of blockage, the type of stent and your risk of bleeding. Don't stop taking aspirin or other anti-clotting medications without consulting your cardiologist.

  • Inform other health care providers. Let your primary care doctor and other specialists you see know what medications you take and that you have a stent. Anti-clotting medications and aspirin can affect surgeries and other medical procedures and may interact with other medications.

What if I need other surgeries?

If you're considering surgery not related to your heart (noncardiac surgery) in the year after receiving your stent, here's what to do:

  • If possible, postpone your noncardiac surgery for one year after receiving a stent.
  • If surgery can't be postponed, discuss with your doctor medications you're taking, such as aspirin or clopidogrel. Your dosages might need to be adjusted.
  • If you're likely to need surgery in the year after you get a stent, a bare-metal stent may be a better option for you. You may also want to consider a bare-metal stent if you're at an increased risk of bleeding or don't think you'll be able to take anti-clotting medications as prescribed by your doctor. Talk with your doctor about your situation.
May 30, 2014