What Exactly Is a Stent, and How Can It Help Someone Who Has Heart Disease?

Did you know that more than one-third of patients would experience another heart attack even after angioplasty if a stent were not inserted?

Without a stent, there is no support in the operated artery, which may collapse or get blocked again. Most stents also have a medicinal coating that prevents arteries from getting smaller or blocked up again. As stents produce better outcomes for patients with blocked arteries, it is necessary to understand the importance of stents. Let’s get started.

What is a stent?

A stent is a small mesh tube placed into a blocked artery after inflation by a balloon to enable the free flow of blood. Usually, stents are about one-half to one inch long and are mostly coated by medicines. However, cardiologists may use bigger-sized stents for wider arteries.

Why would I need a stent?

The doctor may suggest stenting, also known as angioplasty, if you have one or more narrow/blocked arteries. It is a minimally invasive procedure with a 1cm cut in the forearm or groin. The cut doesn’t even need stitches.

When should I need a stent?

Stents are often needed to restore blood flow when cholesterol plaques stick to the walls of the blood vessel, build up, and block the blood vessel.

Stents are mostly needed when a coronary artery gets blocked. The coronary arteries are the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart muscle so it can work properly.

The usage of Stents is not limited to the heart artery. Stenting can open any blocked/narrow artery like the intestine, brain, kidney etc.

What should I do before stenting?

The preparation for the procedure depends on the type of stent that will be used.

  • You shouldn’t eat or drink anything 6 to 8 hours before the procedure.
  • You may also need to change your medicines or stop taking some of them. Inform your doctor if you take any medicines like aspirin, warfarin, clopidogrel, hypertension or diabetes, or nutritional supplements.
  • It’s necessary to keep your doctor up to date on your health. Inform your doctor if you don’t feel well on the day of the procedure.
  • People who smoke should quit right away.

How is a stent placed?

The cardiologist uses a minimally invasive technique to put a stent via the wrist or groin area. The procedure uses a catheter to guide special tools through blood vessels to the site where a stent is needed. In addition, an attached camera on the wire helps with the stent placement process.

The doctor may also use angiography, a type of imaging, to help guide the stent as it is being put in. Thereafter, special tools find the part of the damaged or blocked blood vessel. After the stent reaches the blockage, a balloon is used to open up the stent in the artery and fix the stent there. The balloon is then deflated and brought out of the body along with other wires and tools.

What are the risks of putting in a stent?

Even though stents don’t usually cause problems, some rare risks are associated with stenting.

  • Reaction to the dyes or drugs used during the operation
  • Bleeding
  • Vascular obstruction
  • Blood clots
  • Blood vessel infection
  • The body may reject the stent leading to dislodging of the stent.
  • Some people have allergies or sensitivities to the metal used to make stents.

However, these side effects are extremely rare if an experienced cardiologist does the procedure and good-quality stents and dyes are used.  

What will happen after the operation?

  • After the procedure, your doctor will take the special tools out of your body and apply pressure on the minor incision to stop it from bleeding. Most patients do not need stitches, as the incision is very small.
  • At the site of the incision, you may feel some pain.
  • The doctor will prescribe painkillers alongside anticoagulant medicine to prevent blood clots.
  • You might have to spend the night in the hospital. The hospital stay may be longer if a person has experienced a heart attack or stroke.
  • Before you leave, your doctor will offer advice regarding post-operation lifestyle. Preferably, you should not engage in strenuous activity or lift anything too heavy.
  • Take prescription medicine as advised by your doctor and do regular follow-ups. When individuals discontinue these medicines too soon, they are more likely to experience another heart attack or stroke
  • Stop smoking and drinking. Your doctor may advise you heart-healthy diet as well

When should I get in touch with my doctor?

You should immediately inform your doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Experience chest discomfort that is not relieved by one dosage of nitroglycerin given under the tongue
  • Unexplained fever
  • The site of the incision is reddish, painful, or swollen.

If you experience any symptoms related to heart conditions, don’t delay consulting a good cardiologist. Receiving the proper medical treatment and care is the only way to avoid any related medical complications.

To book an appointment, contact us at +91-9540 114 114.

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SSB Heart and Multispecialty Hospital