Aspirin is usually taken indefinitely after stent placement, explains WebMD. Blood thinning drugs, such as Plavix and Brilinta, may also be prescribed for up to 12 months depending on the type of stent used.
Stents are mesh tubes that act as scaffolding to hold clogged arteries open after coronary angioplasty, states Mayo Clinic. There are two types: bare metal stents and drug eluting stents. Drug eluting stents are coated with a medication that reduces the risk of restenosis, the narrowing or closing of an artery after angioplasty. Drug eluting stents require the patient to take blood thinning medications for a longer period of time compared to bare metal stents. Patients may need to take blood thinners for up to a year with a drug eluting stent.
Stents are used to treat coronary artery disease, notes the National Heart, Blood, and Lung Institute. In coronary artery disease, plaque builds up in the arteries leading to narrowing or blockages that starve the heart of oxygen. Plaque also increases the risk of blood clots, which can break free and lodge in the heart or lungs, creating a life-threatening situation.
A doctor uses angioplasty to open clogged arteries and place stents, states the National Heart, Blood, and Lung Institute. During this procedure, a thin tube with a balloon at the end is threaded through the femoral artery and to the site of the blockage. Once in place, the balloon is expanded to open the artery, and a stent is placed to keep it clear.