Post-stent chest pain

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters 

A friend’s daughter (who happens to be a cardiac nurse) phoned to check on me a few days after I was discharged from the hospital following my heart attack. I felt so relieved to hear Kate’s voice because  something was really starting to worry me:  I was still having chest pain.

Hadn’t the blocked coronary artery that had caused my “widow maker” heart attack just recently been magically unblocked? Wasn’t that newly revascularized artery now propped wide open with a shiny metal stent? Shouldn’t I be feeling better?

And that’s when I heard the words “stretch pain”  for the first time.    .       . 

She explained to me exactly what I would later learn more about from cardiac researchers in Germany: moststretch pain” symptoms are due to the dilation and stretching of a coronary artery that’s caused when a coronary stent is being implanted inside that artery.(1)  And for the majority of heart patients, she added, stretch pain is not a danger sign.

But if you’re like me, you may still be concerned, after your stent has been newly implanted, to find that the chest pain that sent you to the hospital in the first place is still happening.

At the time, I could find no information about chest pain AFTER a stent procedure in any of the patient education material I was given before I was discharged from the CCU (the Intensive Care Unit for heart patients).

But now I was learning that this new chest pain might be BECAUSE of a stent procedure.

The German researchers agreed that post-stent chest pain is likely not a reason for us to panic. But they did acknowledge:

“This is a common problem. Although the development of chest pain after coronary interventions may be benign, it is disturbing to patients, relatives and hospital staff.”

Disturbing? No kidding. . . 

New chest pain is very disturbing to a person who has just survived a heart attack.

In the German study, researchers found that stretch pain can be experienced after different types of cardiac interventions:

  • about 40 per cent of the patients they studied developed chest pain after having a coronary stent implanted (Percutaneous Coronary Intervention, or PCI)
  • 12 per cent developed chest pain after balloon angioplasty
  • 9 per cent developed chest pain after diagnostic angiography

As cardiologist Dr. Allen Jeremias explained in his book, Your Personal Guide to Angioplasty:

“The air pressure in your fully inflated car tires is about 2 atmospheres. By comparison, the high pressure used to inflate a balloon inside a coronary artery during angioplasty is between 10-20 atmospheres.”

Researchers suggest that chest pain in recently stented patients can be associated with continuous stretching of the treated coronary artery during an invasive procedure, which they described like this in the journal, Circulation:(2)

“Non-ischemic chest pain develops in almost half of all patients undergoing stent implantation, and seems to be related to blood vessel over-expansion caused by the stent inside the diseased vessel.”

U.K. sources add that it’s common to experience this new chest discomfort in the first few days and weeks following a stent procedure.

“This is because your artery has suffered some trauma and bruising from the stent being fitted. You can have episodes of pain or discomfort as the stent settles into place. This pain is usually felt quite locally in the chest, and is often described as sharp or stabbing. This type of pain can often be relieved by taking acetaminophen (Tylenol).”

Symptoms have been generally described by patients as mild or moderate, and also “unlike the pain of angina” that they had experienced before they came into the hospital for treatment. Three-quarters of patients with this pain described it as “continuous, squeezing pain located deep in the chest.” 

What if stretch pain continues or gets worse?

Stretch pain is typically a short-term issue while we are recuperating.  But sometimes, it is not just short-term.

The Journal of the American Heart Association reported that about one third of heart attack patients studied were still reporting occasional chest pain at six weeks or longer.(3)  These symptoms happened infrequently – about 80 per cent experienced symptoms once a month on average, but of the remaining 20 per cent, chest pain was happening weekly or even daily.

This kind of chest pain may not be just your average stretch pain.

If chest pain persists or worsens over weeks, it may indicate another cardiac issue that must be checked out. In a 2018 U.K. study, researchers turned the cardiology world on its ear by suggesting that stents may not address chest pain as we have always believed – especially for patients who have not had a heart attack.(4)  Coronary artery disease (CAD) typically affects many blood vessels, and so stenting only the largest blockage may not make much difference in a patient’s symptoms. As the New York Times described the findings of this study:

A few arteries might be blocked today, and then reopened with stents. But tomorrow a blockage might arise in another artery, and cause a heart attack.”

Always consult your own physician for ongoing or new chest pain, or any distressing symptoms that simply do not feel right to you.  See also: ISCHEMIA Study: That Blockage Isn’t A Time Bomb In Your Chest (about the controversial 2019 research that found stents or bypass surgery are no more effective – except during a heart attack – than providing optimal medical therapy; as I noted at the time, however, fewer than 1/4 of the ISCHEMIA study participants were women).

But meanwhile, my own question on stretch pain is still this: 

“If stretch pain caused by having a stent implanted is as common as cardiac researchers seem to suggest, why aren’t heart patients like me warned about this before hospital discharge so we don’t need to panic during recovery?”

1.  Chao-Chien Chang et al. “Chest pain after percutaneous coronary intervention in patients with stable angina”. Clin Interv Aging. 2016; 11: 1123–1128.
2. Jeremias, A. et al. “Nonischemic Chest Pain Induced by Coronary Interventions: A Prospective Study Comparing Coronary Angioplasty and Stent Implantation”. Circulation. December 1998: 2656–265.
3. Fanaroff, A. et al. “Management of Persistent Angina After Myocardial Infarction Treated With Percutaneous Coronary Intervention: Insights From the TRANSLATE‐ACS Study”;  Journal of the American Heart Asssociation.
4. Rasha Al-Lamee et al. “Percutaneous Coronary Intervention in Stable Angina (ORBITA): a Double-Blind, Randomised Controlled Trial”. The Lancet, Volume 391, ISSUE 10115, P31-40, January 06, 2018.
 

NOTE FROM CAROLYN:  In my book, A Woman’s Guide to Living with Heart Disease (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2017), I wrote much more about chest pain and other (common and uncommon) cardiac symptoms. You can ask for this book at your local library or favourite bookshop, or order it online (paperback, hardcover or e-book) at Amazon, or order it directly from Johns Hopkins University Press. Use their code HTWN to save 20% off the list price when you order.

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Q:  Have you ever experienced stretch pain after a cardiac procedure?

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Please do not leave a comment here asking me about your current symptoms. I  am not a physician and cannot offer you medical advice. Always see a healthcare professional if you’re experiencing distressing symptoms.

146 thoughts on “Post-stent chest pain

  1. So thankful to have found you!

    Have just had an appointment with my Dr. about pain post-stent surgery 3 weeks ago and was diagnosed with Costochondritis. This didn’t sound right to me which lead me to the internet where I found you and now, it all becomes clear!

    I cannot believe that this information was not given to me and I’m a little peeved because I’ve spent 3 weeks really worried that I’ve been made worse than I was before!

    By the way, I’m in the U.K so things are no different over here!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Debra – I’m glad you found me, too! As you can tell from many of the reader comments here, you are NOT alone.

      I too cannot believe that stent patients BEFORE HOSPITAL DISCHARGE aren’t told about this very common side effect of stenting – so that we won’t worry ourselves sick over this unexpected chest pain. If you had been told, you wouldn’t have spent three weeks fretting – weeks you will never get back, when you should have been relaxing and healing. And I also cannot believe that any physician who treats recently stented patients wouldn’t think of stretch pain as the most likely cause of post-stent chest pain – since it happens to 40% of all stent patients – rather than costochondritis!

      I hope your symptoms begin to ease up over time as you heal.

      Take care, stay safe. . . ♥

      Like

  2. I had my stent fitted in the left anterior descending coronary artery six weeks ago. I feel worse than I did before. I feel like someone is squeezing my heart. I’m calling the cardiac ward tomorrow

    This can’t be right.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Nicola – sorry you’re experiencing those distressing symptoms. You’re in the right timeline for this to be possibly associated with commonly experienced stretch pain, but after six weeks I think you’re smart to get it checked out, just in case! Good luck to you… ♥

      Like

  3. I am (was) an otherwise healthy, highly energetic 63-year-old female, never been in a hospital, healthy lifestyle, eating right, exercising 7 days a week. Seven weeks ago, around 9:30 am, 30 minutes into my 45-minute jog, I felt slight pressure just below my sternum, and mild nausea.

    The nausea went away within seconds, the subtle pressure stayed. I finished my ‘run’, showered, ate a full breakfast but the annoying pressure/discomfort persisted even after 2+ hours. The doctor’s office referred me to their Urgent Care where I found out I am in the middle of a heart attack (my EKG was abnormal). I was rushed to ER and subsequently had a stent placed in one of the 90% blocked arteries, by an interventional cardiologist, no surgery, no recovery, right?

    They said I could go back to work within a couple of days. Well, that was not going to be the case…..my ‘stretching pain’ started a couple of days after the stent placement. The pain is not always there, but it comes and goes, sometimes it’s severe enough for me to sit down and take stock of whether I am having another heart attack.

    I am with everyone on this forum to thank Carolyn for opening this up. It feels like a good support group. And why don’t the cardiologist or the team alert you of the possible pain? I feel like I have aged 10 years in the last month.

    My question is whether I will ever feel like my old self again? I understand some of it is or might be the medication, but I thought my body would be used to the changes by now…. will the pain ever fully go away, will I stop feeling tired? And why are some days better than other days?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Romi – I’m so glad you found my site, although I’m not glad about the reason you found me. At seven weeks post-stent, you are still in relatively early days, and more importantly, you are still dealing with both physical symptoms AND trying to get your brain wrapped around the psychological impact of a shocking diagnosis.

      I have always thought that people like you (e.g.”highly energetic, exercise 7 days a week” etc) can actually experience more trouble adjusting post-heart attack than those who don’t exercise at all and aren’t that energetic to begin with. You’ve just gone from zero to 60 with no advance warning – no wonder you are reeling right now.

      Excellent questions (especially the one about WHY doctors don’t warn heart patients before hospital discharge about stretch pain?!?!?) I’m not a physician so can’t answer your other questions like “will I stop feeling tired?” My personal guess would be “YES!” but of course I can’t say when. So much depends on how well both your body and your mind settle down. If your chest pains start getting worse instead of better over time, call your doctor. But otherwise, I strongly recommend cardiac rehabilitation classes to you – ask your cardiologist or GP to refer you if that has not yet happened.

      Also, remember that this is not a race. There’s no schedule on the calendar for the day you’ll be felling 100% back to normal. This really is a case of ‘one day at a time’. What worked best for me was to just walk outdoors, every day, one step at a time. At first it was pretty sad – I could barely drag myself to the corner and back. But every day I tried to do one block more than yesterday, and really notice all the beautiful trees and gardens I was passing. Remember that what the heart needs now is work, not rest – as I wrote about here.

      It’s also common – especially among athletic people – to feel that our hearts have somehow let us down, after doing all the right things all those years. My therapist suggested that I do a relaxing little guided meditation with deep breaths while picturing the blood coursing happily through my newly-revascularized arteries, while thanking my brave little heart for helping me survive what many do not. That might help you too.

      Good luck to you Romi – I hope that while you’re here, you will browse around lots of other articles (just click under TOPICS on the right hand sidebar to search for links to hundreds of them).

      Take care, stay safe. . . . ♥

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      1. Dear Carolyn,

        Thank you for writing back. You have articulated my situation very well, which has put my mind to ease. I started my cardiac rehab last week and it is going well. I do see light at the end of a tunnel. In the meantime, I have become obsessed with your blog site and am trying to read as much as can from the sidebars and fellow heart attack survivor stories.

        Excellent point about this not being a race, I think I was trying to compete with myself, before and after the heart attack.

        The cardiologists are well-meaning, well informed but they don’t always have the answers. I think the disconnect is because they have not been through it themselves so they may not completely understand (if they are listening) what the patient is going through. And of course, the standby, everyone is different and reacts and responds differently to medications, and therapy or rehab.

        I want to thank you again for the blog, the book and answering questions without the medical jargon. I am truly indebted!!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thank you for such kind words, Romi. Great news about your cardiac rehab – hang in there and it WILL get better. I believe you’re right about cardiologists in general. For example, as Dr. Sharonne Hayes (founder of the Mayo Women’s Heart Clinic) once said of her colleagues who can’t recognize new-onset depression among their female heart patients: “Cardiologists may not be comfortable with ‘touchy-feely’ stuff. They want to treat lipids and chest pain. And most are not trained to cope with mental health issues…”

          I don’t think a doctor necessarily needs to have lived through a serious health crisis in order to understand the emotional and psychological fallout from that diagnosis (e.g. the surgeon who removed my ruptured appendix when I was a teenager didn’t need to have appendicitis himself to do a good job!) – but it sure helps! When doctors become patients, they by definition become better doctors – it’s as if they finally GET it, what their patients have been telling them for decades, as if they suddenly learn how to LISTEN.

          I certainly don’t wish heart disease on any cardiologist – but improving listening and empathy skills must start back in med school.

          Like

          1. I stand corrected, one (physician) doesn’t have to actually go through any situation to fully understand the plight of another (patient). You are absolutely correct, perfectly cited by your example. I do not wish for anyone to have to go through the agony just to be able to commiserate.
            Hopefully, ‘they’ continue to listen and introduce more listening and empathy skills in Medical School.

            BTW: yesterday was a great day for me, no pain, taking your advice of one day at a time!!

            Thank you!

            Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Carolyn,
    Thanks for this article and for keeping this comments section open. My father, 71, got a PCI to his LAD a month ago exactly and he has been complaining of chest constrictions which are not linked to any direct activities he’s doing. He said it’s sometimes while he’s brisk walking but other times when he’s completely sedentery and it gives him a feeling of being suffocated or breathless.. Is this similar to stretch pain or should we be worried?

    We’ve changed around his blood pressure medications a few times and got an ECG done as well, which was not indicative of anything other than the fact that he did have an angioplasty done. His cardiologist has been vague at best but maybe he is being catious and asking us to wait it out, so that this stretch settles. He had initially mentioned the possibility of this being a side effect of Brilinta but then didn’t follow up as the frequency of the incidents didn’t seem indicative of those side effects.

    At 4-5 weeks, it is unlikely it would be restenosis, right? We have been following a strict zero oil, zero fat, low fat dairy diet and my father has been walking 3-4 kms most days since his recovery.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Sim – I can tell that your Dad’s follow-up care is important to you (that’s a very positive indicator when family members are involved and supportive!) I’m not a physician so cannot comment on what’s causing your Dad’s symptoms, but I can say generally that at four weeks, he’s within the time frame for commonly experienced stretch pain symptoms. As the research quoted in this article has found, 12% of angioplasty patients experience some level of stretch pain as the coronary artery recuperates – even with no stent involved. Brilinta would have been a good guess as a possible culprit – as both chests tightness and shortness of breath are known side effects listed on the drug’s label. We know that some drug side effects ease up over time as the body gets used to a new drug, so it’s not uncommon for doctors to recommend that patients ‘wait and see’ if this does happen.

      In many ways, the best thing your Dad could be doing is his 3-4km walk every day – that’s medicine in itself. If his symptoms become suddenly worse instead of predictably better over time, he should report this change to his doctor.

      Best of luck to him – and to you.

      Like

  5. I had 2 stents placed 10 months ago and have had varying degrees of pain and shortness of breath almost every day since. My doctors want me to take Pepcid for stomach acid which I don’t think I have. I tried it for a while but stopped. I changed my diet, lost 15 lbs and now have been told to gain weight as my BMI is close to showing malnourished.

    They also put me on antidepressants because I was getting to be a pest to them and they have no answers – so it must be in my head. This article has been helpful by giving a possible explanation for the pain. The only thing that seems to help is Tramadol which I take when the pain becomes unbearable. I do have an appt. at Mayo clinic in Sept with a gastroenterologist to evaluate/eliminate possible stomach causes. Thank you for enlightening me.

    Like

    1. Hello Nancy – I’m sorry you’ve been experiencing pain and shortness of breath for such a long time with no remedy so far. I’m not a physician so cannot comment specifically on your personal situation which seems to be quite complex (a heart condition, “unbearable pain”, and now losing weight. But I can tell you generally that pain described as “unbearable” is not likely just stretch pain. I’m so glad you have an appointment at Mayo next month. While you’re there, please request a detailed medication review to discuss other non-opioid alternatives to Tramadol; some of the drugs you mentioned may cause serious problems including heart arrhythmias if taken at the same time.

      Good luck to you. I hope you’ll get this mystery solved.

      Like

  6. I am a guy but found this article so useful and relieving. Had Angioplasty 4 weeks ago with two stents at the age of 39.

    Post stenting, I have been experiencing exactly the same pain which I think is getting better.

    But many thanks for this post because I never got a good and clear answer from doctors about this pain nor did they inform me about it prior to the surgery — which increased my worries. If they had told me before surgery, I wouldn’t have been so stressed and worried for so many days.

    I still have some pain which I hope will go away. I would like to ask how everyone is getting on with their lives, for example, sports, carrying their kids, running, exercise, food, diet. Apologies so much to ask ….. which of course doctors tell you but it always helps to hear from someone who has gone through the procedure and how they managing it.

    Once again many thanks for this valuable and reassuring post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Kamran – thanks for your note. First, I’m glad that you’re already noticing that your pain is getting better – a very promising sign of healing.

      I’m starting to notice lately that many men are responding to this blog post – which is good. Post-stent chest pain seems to affect both men AND women with similar reports of scary symptoms – yet another reason to question WHY hospital staff do NOT generally warn heart patients before discharge that this post-op outcome is VERY common (40% of us!) and almost always benign…

      In answer to your ‘how are we getting on with our lives’ question: you are very young to have had your cardiac procedures, so no wonder this may feel overwhelming at this point! I’ve written a lot about the early weeks post-diagnosis while we get our brains wrapped around what has just happened, taking medications that are likely brand new to us, adopting recommended diet or lifestyle changes, etc. I’m hoping that your hospital sent you home with some basic instructions on diet, etc. So much of your recuperation depends on you, and how you’re interpreting what has happened to you (something that I remember being very valuable in my own case was an Australian study that followed victims of devastating floods – but with so many lessons for heart patients too! The lead author Dr. Richard Bryant Dr. Bryant found that the psychological help that victims of traumatic events may actually respond best to is what he calls “a heightened sense of expectancy of recovery and normalcy”. For example:

      “What we can tell them is that these feelings might be there, but if they are, they’re transient. If they do persist, then there are things we can do about them. Research evidence tells us if we can heighten people’s expectancy of recovery and of normalcy, then that will facilitate a better outcome.” In other words, when heart patients “expect” to recuperate (little by little, day by day) as they do more activities – especially those that they used to enjoy pre-cardiac procedure – the better they’ll feel psychologically, and the more activities they’ll feel ready to take on.

      The first thing I’d do if I were in your shoes is to sign up for a cardiac rehabilitation program, where you’ll be around other people in the same boat. This therapeutic program not only gets you moving your muscles (very important for heart patients – the heart actually needs WORK, not REST in most cases – as I wrote here: https://myheartsisters.org/2011/06/14/early-exercise-after-heart-attack/

      Best of luck to you, Kamran. . .

      Like

    2. To Kamran…

      I find I only get pain when I’m doing nothing. I’m 18 months in and still get pain in my left side upper rib cage. Can’t get to see or speak to a doctor anymore, so I’m taking care of myself. Another thing to consider with pain is costocondritis, inflammation of the rib cage for which there is no treatment and can take months or longer to settle down.

      Hope this is helpful to anyone out there.

      About myself. I didn’t have a heart attack, only a 70% blockage of one artery. I wish I didn’t have the stent fitted, it’s a personal choice, as I’ve had nothing but pain and discomfort ever since.

      Like

      1. Hello Val – first of all, I’m very sorry to hear that you’ve had 18 months of “pain and discomfort” since your stent was implanted. I’m not a physician, but 18 months seems too long to be translated as simple “stretch pain” caused by the stent expanding inside a coronary artery – yet something is causing those symptoms!

        Interesting that your pain happens when you’re “doing nothing” (as opposed to what cardiologists look for – pain that comes on exertion, goes away with rest = the textbook cardiac symptom of angina). See also: What is Causing My Chest Pain? – LOTS of non-cardiac possible options here.

        I’m so glad you mentioned costochondritis; chest pain associated with costo can often be confused with heart-related pain. In New Zealand, physiotherapists treat this condition through manual treatment of the BACK, not the chest. Much more here, including some videos from physio Steve August:
        Good luck to you! Take care, stay safe. . .

        Like

  7. As recent as 2 weeks ago, I had a LAD lesion and a stent placed! Since then, I have had the stabbing chest pain you are describing!! Have been in the ER about it, but they say it’s not related to Cardiac issues!

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  8. Thanks for this article. I had a heart attack and got a drug-eluting stent fitted. A few days later, I was back in hospital for what felt like another heart attack but they could find nothing wrong. A program of follow-up care is planned but meantime it’s kind of scary thinking I may be in and out of hospital as I’m advised to call Emergency if I fear another attack.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Sandy – You were smart to return to the hospital to get your symptoms checked out, just in case. During your follow-up care, talk to your cardiologist abut these troubling symptoms and the likelihood that your symptoms are stretch pain, and not another heart attack. Meanwhile, I hope you’ve been referred for cardiac rehabilitation program – if so, GO!

      Best of luck to you…

      Like

      1. I’m a guy, BTW, but I found your article very helpful.

        Apart from seeing my GP, I do indeed have this two-hour rehab meeting soon with the cardiac people to advise me on everything. I’m taking aspirin, clopidogrel and lansoprazole too. The only drug that concerns me is Atorvastatin 80mg as I’m slim and have excellent cholesterol so it seems a high dosage of one of the most powerful statins. The doc at the hospital said he’s not overly concerned if I don’t want to take it or at least cut the dosage as long as I take all the others. It’s so confusing reading up on these drugs as there are so many conflicting studies that appear to contradict each other.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Hi again Sandy – great news about your rehab appointment.

          I’m not a physician so cannot comment specifically on the meds you’re taking, except very generally. Interesting that the hospital doc isn’t “overly concerned if you don’t take your statin/lower the dose”. You have “excellent” cholesterol numbers, but you also have had a heart attack. Some studies suggest that statins can also reduce inflammation (the perceived culprit in most heart attacks) so that may explain why statins are prescribed even to people with “normal” cholesterol like you.

          Most cardiologists joke about putting statins in the drinking water (at least, I think they’re joking!) Others will routinely prescribe it to anybody with a detectable pulse – over a certain age. You might consider the Mayo Clinic Statin Choice decision-making tool: https://statindecisionaid.mayoclinic.org/ – designed to be completed by patients with a doctor they trust.

          Last point: while you’re with your physician, ask about the Prevacid (lansoprazole) you’re taking: one of the Proton Pump Inhibitor family of drugs, PPIs may increase the incidence of cardiovascular events in coronary artery disease patients; also, this antacid drug has not been approved for longterm use (more than 4 weeks, followed by 2 weeks of tapering off). Good article here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6822659/

          BTW, I have many other male readers so you’re not alone here as you’ll see if you browse the comments – much of adjusting to life as a heart patient is remarkably applicable to both male and female patients…

          Good luck…

          Like

    2. Hi. I had a balloon angio done without a stent implanted 4 days ago. I already have 3 stents for 16 years as an insulin dependent diabetic injecting twice daily humalog mix 75/25.

      Yesterday I felt strange again in the chest after walking maybe too briskly and a bit of a twinge in bed this morning. Apart from that I feel fine. Not sure if I should call my consultant. The problem I had was that plaque had built up in one of the stents. So maybe these events are after effects of trauma to the artery wall etc from balloon . Any advice most welcome.. cheers Kevin.

      I cut the grass yesterday also with an electric mower..maybe I’ve overdone it. I’m hypertensive also. So I’ve got the whole bag. I’m 67 years on the planet.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hello Kevin – you’re still in very early days post-angio. As the research I mentioned shows, about 12% of balloon angioplasty patients can also experience pain/discomfort afterwards – without a stent – because, as you suspected, the balloon stretches the coronary artery with considerable force during the procedure.

        It’s perfectly normal to focus on unusual symptoms following these procedures. I’m not a physician, but I can tell you generally that exercise (mowing your lawn, etc) is very important for heart patients – “early and prolonged” – even after a serious heart attack. I wrote more on research on this topic here: https://myheartsisters.org/2011/06/14/early-exercise-after-heart-attack/ – quoting the lead researcher who wrote:

        “While it’s been shown that exercise has a favourable effect on heart function, it’s also important to dispel the idea that what the heart needs is rest.”

        He added that what the heart actually needs is WORK, not rest. This may be a tough sell to patients who would prefer to sit quietly, but that sedentary habit leads to overall de-conditioning, especially for a person with a number of chronic conditions.

        Should your symptoms continue or worsen, call your consultant for guidance. But meanwhile, try not to think of normal activities like lawn-mowing as “overdoing” it, and focus instead on your overall response that you feel “fine”. Best of luck to you in your recuperation.

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  9. Excellent article and many thanks for sharing. 22 days on from a stent insertion and experiencing these stabbing pains from time to time. Again, why are we not informed of these post operation symptoms!? Bizarre.

    This article certainly helps put one’s mind at rest knowing this is a common experience with many people.
    Best wishes…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Graham – that is an important question: “Why are we not informed?”

      There are two possible answers:
      .
      1. clinicians are unaware of the concept of post-stent stretch pain, or
      2. they’re reluctant to mention this relatively common side effect because patients may spontaneously develop imaginary symptoms (in much the same way that at one time doctors would not mention known side effects of new drug prescriptions because of their assumption that if they told patients that this drug might cause headaches or a rash or dizziness, the gullible patient would mistakenly believe they have those symptoms). Both possibilities are unacceptable, in my opinion…

      You’re in very early days yet – I hope that as things continue to heal, your symptoms will gradually subside. Good luck to you…

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Thank you so much for having published this information online! Just got out of hospital today after having a heart attack and angioplasty with stents.

    I was having chest pain and was thinking : is it happening again? After many blood tests, painful heart ultrasound, angiogram, all the monitoring, to think it did not really work or that I may have to go back to hospital and do it again for another artery, was very stressful and counterproductive.

    I had the same thoughts : why no doctor nor nurse told me about this!?

    Your words went a long way to reassure me!
    All the best to you!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hello Marie-Christine! Well, wasn’t this perfect timing? I’m so glad you read this post about stretch pain before you had spent time worrying. “Is this something? Is it nothing? Should I call 911?” is a terribly stressful way to waste hours of your life.

      I’m hopeful that, like so many other heart patients who are ‘surprised’ by this (because like you and me, nobody warned them about stretch pain before discharge), your symptoms will gradually lessen as your body heals.

      If symptoms start to get worse instead of better, however, don’t hesitate to mention that to your doctor.

      Good luck to you. . . ♥

      Like

  11. I found this site informative. It’s been two weeks since I had two stents placed in the same artery. I had a non-STEMI heart attack the week before the procedure. I find fear to be present a little as I wake each morning, glad and elated to be here. I am so achy and sore in muscles from rib cage down to my toes.

    I know it isn’t the same as the event as it was fixed. I haven’t taken any Tylenol for pain, but I think I will.

    I am thankful that I found this site. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Brenda – you are in very early days yet since your heart attack so it’s not unusual that you’re still recuperating. Your “down to my toes” comment suggests that you may have had your stents implanted via your femoral (groin) artery, which can cause bruising, swelling or soreness in many heart patients afterwards. It can take several weeks to fully heal.

      I’m not a physician but I can tell you generally that Tylenol (acetaminophen) is considered safer for heart patients than Advil (ibuprofen) or Aleve (naproxen). Check with your doctor just to make sure.

      Best of luck to you in your recovery. . . Take care, stay safe! ♥

      Like

  12. Thank you, I can sleep tonight now. 3 weeks ago, blood clot, heart attack and stent. Still experiencing intermittent discomfort. This all makes sense.

    Thank you, I’m going to purchase the book now. Ignorance is not bliss, it just scares you stupid. Facts and reasons help you move on!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Amanda – welcome to the very exclusive club that nobody ever wants to join! You have been through a lot – and you’re still in relatively early days as they say. You’re so right – facts and reasons are better than ignorance – or as I like to say, knowledge is POWER! By the way, you might want to read this helpful series of ‘homecoming’ essays by Dr. Wayne Sotile (excellent for freshly diagnosed heart patients). Part 1 starts here with links to the rest at the bottom.

      If your intermittent discomfort feels worse, or if it goes on for what seems like TOO long, see your doctor just to be on the safe side. But if this IS stretch pain, you’ll likely experience fewer episodes of discomfort as the coronary artery continues to heal up week by week.

      Good luck to you! Take care, stay safe… ♥

      Like

  13. Week into stenting my LAD, I am still experiencing mild left arm pain front of the armpit. I went to the ER on the second day after the procedure on advice from the nurse when I called to discuss this after-stenting pain. I was kept in the ER for 40 hrs observation. All the EKG and enzyme tests were negative but no physician or cardiologist said this is normal pain after PCI.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Two possible reasons for this lack of information, Raj: either
      1. the physicians were reluctant to definitively blame stretch pain for your symptoms until they ruled out every other possible cardiac reason, or
      2. they are unaware of how common stretch pain is following PCI

      Many people have told me the same story, that not one person had warned them before hospital discharge about this very common post-stent side effect. As this article suggests, stretch pain can last for several weeks as the coronary artery heals from being stretched during your procedure.

      Take care, stay safe. . .

      Like

  14. Very useful and educative. I got a stent implanted five days back and going through, probably, stretching pain. I wish Drs would explain these aspects/dimensions to their patients.

    Like

  15. I had one stent implantation in my LAD in July 2017 four years back. Since then I am feeling chest pain very often, sometime after 2 months or 3 months which lasts for few days. I had another angiography done in March 2018 . Everything was OK. I have consulted many cardiologists but no-one could tell the reason. I am always tense due to this recurring chest pain despite diet restrictions, regular exercise and prescribed medicines.

    Like

  16. I had a heart attack 4 years ago and immediately after my emergency stent procedure while recovering in ICU experienced stabbing pains in my chest I would describe as a quick jolting pain. I told everyone, the nurses and my doctors, and no one knew what it was.

    Since then I have them every month less frequent, but still the same sometimes during the day and while in bed and sometimes jolts me up. It’s a very scary sensation and I never knew what it was until I came across this article! Why don’t doctors know or tell you about this? 🤔

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello K – I’m not a physician, but I can say generally that the stabbing chest pains shortly after your stent procedure may have indeed been stretch pain due to the coronary arteries being over-stretched during the balloon angioplasty procedure in the cath lab, but I’m wondering if your occasional scary symptoms four years later can still be blamed on recuperating from that stent? Mention these pains to your cardiologist to see if there are other possible explanations for them.

      Best of luck to you – take care and stay safe . . . ♥

      Like

  17. Hi Carolyn,
    I had a silent AMI/ STEMI widowmaker and have ischemic cardiomyopathy as a result along with other conditions. My stretching pain didn’t start until a year after my heart attack and stent placement. My cardiologist did a cardiac cath at the end of two years to make sure that I didn’t have any blockages. He told me everything was clear and I didn’t have any other blockages and that it was stretching pain and I would have them until my heart healed. He said it was in the healing phase. I was close to five years out before they stopped.
    Take care,
    Robin

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Robin – I’m not a doctor, but it does seem odd that stretching pain caused by the coronary artery being overstretched in the cath lab would take five years to heal. We know that there are other reasons for chest pain that lasts that long (e.g. microvascular disease, vasospasm, etc) that could be the culprit. In any case, I’m glad this pain finally stopped!

      Take care, stay safe. . . ♥

      Like

  18. Thank you!!! I had a stent 3 weeks ago and am freaking out from this new/other heart pain. It doesn’t feel like when I was on the verge of a heart attack, but somewhat mild squeezing pain that gets no better or worse with exercise. I was quite relieved to find this information.

    And, DEFINITELY, why don’t they TELL you this upon hospital release? I could not attend cardiac rehab due to arthritis (back, shoulder, hips, hands) since there was no machine I could use. So I was just left to wonder if this is “normal”. Mind you, had it gotten bad, I’d have gone straight to the hospital. But it was never THAT bad, just annoying and quite concerning!

    Thank you for sharing your experience!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Brenda – I’m so glad you found my site and this article specifically. Like you, I had never even heard of ‘stretch pain’ caused by my stent before I was discharged. That’s so maddening – to think that this is so common, yet few if any of us are warned about it. At three weeks, you’re still in very early days yet – I hope that your symptoms will gradually ease up and that you’ll feel so much better. Best of luck to you.

      Take care, stay safe. . . ♥

      Like

    2. Hi! I have three stents. All placed at once. I’m 40 years old female. I had the pain for several months before it eased off. I could do very little activity. I also have micro vessel and branch vessel disease on top. I’m still healing from December.
      Best wishes.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hello Sally – I too have had stretch pain following my stent, plus a subsequent diagnosis of microvascular (or small vessel) disease. My understanding is that stretch pain is typically defined as a short term recuperation following the stretching of the coronary artery during an angioplasty procedure, whereas microvascular disease is considered a separate diagnosis that can last a long time. If stretch pain is severe and continues for a long time, it might be time to suspect that it’s coronary microvascular disease.

        Take care, stay safe. . . ♥

        Like

  19. Totally agree with all who said great article.

    I came to my own conclusion, that the stent made of metal does not expand and contract like your artery does when you body temperature changes. So I guess when this temperature change occurs the artery at the edge of the stent may have a hissing fit and we feel the dull pain. This can also occur when there are any emotional feelings happening.
    2 years since my stenting and I still feel it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hello Vittoria – interesting theory. I know that patients who have had metal orthopedic implants can experience more pain in cold weather.

      A stent, however, is so much tinier than a metal rod in the leg, I just don’t know!

      Take care, stay safe. . . 🙂

      Like

    2. Vittorio, the best explanation I have heard so far. The arteries as all organs of the body expand and contract constantly (rhythm), and as you stated, especially with temperature and emotions.

      Over one year with 2 stents and have my moments of discomfort, but the first 6 months were the hardest.

      Liked by 1 person

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