What is a stent?
A stent is a tiny mesh tube made of wire or fabric that holds an artery open to improve blood flow. There are even stents made of materials embedded with medication that dissolve over time. If you have heart disease, a stent can be a lifesaving treatment.
Why would I need a stent?
Plaque is a substance made of cholesterol, fat, and calcium. It can stick to the walls of your arteries, where it eventually hardens. At that point, blood has less room to move through your arteries, which can make your heart work harder and deprive your body of oxygen-rich blood. That condition is called coronary artery disease.
If plaque accumulations cause a blood clot that blocks the flow of blood to your heart, a heart attack can occur. Stents help by holding the targeted artery open and improving blood flow.
A stent can reduce the risk of chest pain and can also treat a heart attack that’s underway.
What is the process for getting a stent?
A stent can be inserted through your neck, arm, or groin. A thin tube called a catheter is inserted through your blood vessel until it reaches the target artery. At the end of the tube is the collapsed stent positioned over a small medical balloon.
Once the balloon is in place, it’s carefully inflated, which places pressure against the accumulated plaque and arterial walls. As the balloon inflates, the stent expands, opening up the artery to the desired width. Then the balloon is deflated, leaving the stent in place.
The catheter is then withdrawn and the incision closed.
What happens after the stent procedure?
Once your stent is in place, you’ll need to take medication to inhibit blood clotting. There are various options, including aspirin. Your specialist will discuss which approach is right for you, and your drug therapy may shift over time. Most men and women don’t need to remain on these medications indefinitely.
You should also make an effort to embrace heart-healthy lifestyle habits after your stent is in place. Changing your diet and exercise plans and reducing stress can go a long way toward boosting your heart health.
If you have questions about the role a stent might play in your treatment path, schedule a consultation at South Shore Cardiovascular Associates today, online or over the phone.