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I am a 69 years old man who has been jogging and running many marathons all my life.

I can't pick my genes so i had a blockage in my heart artery which lead to placement of a stent last year in spite of all my blood and heart numbers being ideal. But I can pick my lifestyle so I asked my doctor if i should run today's LA marathon. He said there was not enough stats on it.

I decided to run the marathon today cautiously and at a bit of slow pace. I was ready to stop if there was any warnings or pain or irregularities. nothing happened and i finished in under 6 hours

I am just sharing my personal experience to help populate the shadowy stats on workout and exercise for new generation of senior citizens who are desperately in need of knowledge about this, now that stents are commonly used.

Is ther any organized data available on the potential constraints of stents?

Edit After I had my stent I kept running 20-25 miles a week and ran the 2017 LA marathon in 5:56 hrs. I had 3 pit stops along the way.

My doctor took me off Plavix (clopidogrel bisulfate)after I had a massive hemorrhage last March in an skiing accident. I am doing fine now and back on track running, and intend to run on LA 2019 marathon.

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Why is there not enough research on heart stent and exercise?

There is research of stents and exercise! How much is enough?

In fact there are exercise programmes, known as cardiac rehabilitation designed to help those who have had some forms of cardiac disease or procedures-- including stent insertions. Cardiac rehabilitation has evidence to suggest that it is a beneficial programme for those who have suffered eg heart attacks or who who have had stents.

There is evidence to suggest that exercise shortly following stent insertion is safe too; though perhaps inadvisable in the context of having a sore groin from the femoral access used.

Certain types of exercise, such as high-intensity interval training (HIIT) may protect stent function, though it should be noted that the study that suggested this had a relatively small sample size. It may have other beneficial effects, but again note 1) small sample size and 2) a surrogate marker (heart rate variability (HRV)).

It should be reasonable to conclude that other factors notwithstanding some forms of exercise is not harmful in and of itself following a stent. Of course, context is everything- if those 'other factors' were that a person who has had a stent is terribly unfit and so has very poor heart function, or has other significant co-morbidities, or similar it may not be safe for them to exercise!

And so to the next point:

Why isn't there research to say if me running this marathon is safe? Why wouldn't my doctor tell me it's safe to run in the LA marathon?

'Why' questions can be tricky to answer; but in brief it may be tricky to do good, conclusive research as to whether having a stent affects marathon running. Research or trial design is a very broad topic to go into (it's a science unto itself), but it's hard to do well at the best of times. In this particular case there are several potential pitfalls.

Stent or not, some people die during marathons. This may be due to cardiac arrest or in the context of sudden cardiac death.

So, say you have someone who sadly dies during a marathon, and they have a stent. How do you work out whether they died due to it not being safe to run because they have a stent, or for another reason? Stent or not, were they fit to run- are they a previously fit-and-healthy individual with a background of running before their procedure, or were they a sedentary individual who had a heart attack out the blue and leapt 'off the couch' to get fit after they had to have stents put in?

In the absence of evidence, it's a judgement call. I can't and wouldn't wish speak for your doctor, but if they were to tell you that based on you being previously fit and well, and that you are doing well following the procedure you should be fine; if you then were to have something adverse happen, you may decide they had advised you poorly.

That being said, there is a programme for those with stents (and other medical devices) to be sponsored to enter a marathon; I am not affiliated with them. It's also worth pointing out that one of the requirements is that the putative runner:

Certify they have consulted with a physician who deems the runner medically fit to participate in the race.

So there you go. Run safe.


Citations and Further Reading

Cardiac rehabilitation- NHS info and a linked British Heart Foundation guide

Impact of Cardiac Rehabilitation on Mortality and Cardiovascular Events After Percutaneous Coronary Intervention in the Community

Early exercise after coronary stenting is safe

High-intensity interval training may reduce in-stent restenosis following percutaneous coronary intervention with stent implantation : A randomized controlled trial evaluating the relationship to endothelial function and inflammation

High-intensity interval exercise training improves heart rate variability in patients following percutaneous coronary intervention for angina pectoris.

Marathon-related cardiac arrest

Cardiac Arrest during Long-Distance Running Races

Risk for sudden cardiac death associated with marathon running

  • My stent was inserted through my right arm. It healed fast, almost within a day or two and left no scars. The technology is improving. I had two pit stops on the marathon, non the less I finished 5:54 hrs., very close to my last year's time. – kamran Mar 24 '17 at 0:33
  • This is actually your most complete answer. To add slightly on the marathon and stent stats... Your typical stent/CABG/MI/et cetera patient hasn't even contemplated a marathon. Most patients with cardiac issues have them from lifestyle choices. Be it a less than ideal diet, lack of exercise, substance abuse, diabetes, and so on and so on. You and others like you are an exception to the rule. If you are familiar with statistics... most of the time studies aren't deemed satisfactory if the participant pool (n) is less than 50. @bertieb is correct - consult a physician! – BryceH Mar 24 '17 at 18:28
  • kamran- well done and glad the procedure seems to have had a good outcome :) @Grohlier thanks for adding that; it's a good point to make clear re 'less than ideal' (in various ways) cardiac patients. Any suggestions to refine the answer to make it more complete? – bertieb Mar 24 '17 at 18:58

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