What is a Heart Stent?
When a patient has weak arteries, a stent is used to help increase blood flow away from your heart. Essentially, it is a small mesh tube that is placed inside the narrow artery.
The procedure is commonly known as a coronary angioplasty but can also be referred to a percutaneous coronary intervention. It is a procedure that is intended to restore blood flow where it was previously being blocked. Oftentimes, it is a several year solution to an artery issue.
Sometimes a cardiologist may use a heart stent that slowly releases a medicine that prevents the artery from becoming blocked or weakened again.
Why would a patient need a Heart Stent?
Doctors may use angioplasty or place a stent when patients present with any of the below issues- (Most cardiologists wait to place a stent until after other treatments like lifestyle changes have failed.)
- Plaque or Fatty Deposits caused by High Cholesterol
- Insufficient blood flows from weak arteries
- Heart Attacks cause by any of the above issues
- Coronary Artery Disease
What to expect when a heart stent is placed:
Before coronary angioplasty is done, your doctor will need to know the location and extent of the blockages in your coronary (heart) arteries. To find this information, your doctor will use coronary angiography. This test uses dye and special x-rays to show the insides of your arteries.
During angiography, a small tube called a catheter is inserted in an artery, usually in the groin (upper thigh). The catheter is threaded to the coronary arteries.
Special dye, which can be seen on an x-ray, is injected through the catheter. X-ray pictures are taken as the dye flows through your coronary arteries. This outlines blockages, if any are present, and tells your doctor the location and extent of the blockages.
For the angioplasty procedure, another catheter with a balloon on its tip (a balloon catheter) is inserted in the coronary artery and positioned in the blockage. The balloon is then expanded. This pushes the plaque against the artery wall, relieving the blockage and improving blood flow.
A small mesh tube called a stent usually is placed in the artery during angioplasty. The stent is wrapped around the deflated balloon catheter before the catheter is inserted in the artery.
When the balloon is inflated to compress the plaque, the stent expands and attaches to the artery wall. The stent supports the inner artery wall and reduces the chance of the artery becoming narrowed or blocked again.