One of the treatment goals of giving a patient a stent is getting that patient back to a normal life as quickly as possible. Stents work by restoring blood flow through blocked arteries that have been cleared through a procedure conducted within the artery called angioplasty. Once implanted, a stent props open the blood vessel, allowing blood to flow once again to the heart (or brain in the case of strokes). Stents stop heart attacks that are in progress and ease symptoms of coronary artery disease such as chest pain (angina) and shortness of breath.
Here are some basic guidelines about what you can expect in terms of returning to physical activity after you receive a stent. Always follow your doctor’s instructions about the activity level that is appropriate for you.
• For the first five days, do only light activities. Walking, climbing stairs and taking care of routine activities are fine. After five days, you may resume moderate activities, but you should avoid overexertion that leads to shortness of breath, tiredness or chest pain.
• Wait until three to four weeks before lifting heavy objects or doing strenuous exercise. Get clearance from your doctor before very strenuous activity or manual labor.
Your doctor may recommend that you enroll in an exercise program supervised by health professionals. Supervised cardiac rehabilitation programs are designed to help you build a stronger heart and reduce risk factors for more blocked arteries in the future.