A stent is a wire mesh tube that holds an artery open when there is a blockage affecting blood flow. A blockage is caused by a fatty deposit, and a piece of the deposit can break off and cause a heart attack or stroke. Stent placement is an invasive procedure that requires close monitoring immediately after it is performed. Your doctor can tell you when it is safe to exercise after stent placement.
About Stent Placement
During an angioplasty or stent procedure, your doctor inserts a small, flexible tube called a catheter through an artery in your groin, leg or arm. A dye is injected so blood flow through the artery can be monitored by the doctor performing the procedure. A balloon catheter and then a stent are moved to the blockage location. The balloon is inflated to open the artery containing the blockage, then deflated and removed with the stent left in place.
After a stent is placed, you are normally prescribed an anti-clotting medication for a period to avoid life-threatening blood clots. Any injury received during exercise can be dangerous when you are on this type of medication, so you want to discuss appropriate physical activity with your doctor. The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute indicates that you should avoid vigorous exercise and heavy lifting for a short time after a stent procedure. Your doctor can tell you when physical activity is safe.
Engaging in exercise after having a stent placed may cause some anxiety. The extent of exercise varies depending on your current physical shape and medical condition. If you have been active in the past, there is probably no reason you can't resume your normal level of activity following stent placement. Slowly beginning a moderate exercise regimen may be advisable as it promotes heart health. Always consult your doctor before doing any type of exercise.
For the past several years, runners who have benefited from medical technology have been selected to run in the Medtronic Global Heroes Program as part of the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon. In 2009, the program's captain -- Alberto Salazar, who was a heart patient himself -- encouraged runners who had stents to apply. Salazar confirmed with Medtronic that people with coronary stents were eligible to apply if there was no current untreated heart disease.