What Is a Stent?
A stent is a small tube that can help treat heart disease in a big way. It helps keep your arteries open, which are the blood vessels that carry blood from your heart to other parts of your body, including the heart muscle itself.
Most stents are permanent and made of wire mesh. Some of them are made of cloth. These are called stent grafts, and they are often used in arteries that are bigger.
Some are made of a material that breaks down over time and is absorbed by your body. They are covered with medicine that slowly releases into your artery to keep it from getting blocked again.
What’s the point of getting a stent?
Plaque is a fatty substance that can build up inside an artery and make it harder for blood to get to your heart. This is called coronary heart disease, and it can make you feel pain in your chest.
The plaque can also cause a blood clot that stops blood from getting to your heart. This can cause a heart attack. Stents lower the risk of chest pain because they keep an artery open. They can also help people who are having a heart attack.
How does your doctor put a stent into your body?
Your doctor makes a small cut in a blood vessel in your groin, arm, or neck in order to put a stent in. Then, they put a thin tube called a catheter through the blood vessel and into the artery that is blocked.
At the end of the tube is a small balloon. Your doctor blows up the balloon inside the artery that is blocked. This makes your artery bigger so that blood can flow again.
The stent is then put into your artery. The catheter and balloon will be taken out, but the stent will stay in the artery to keep it open. The procedure takes about an hour, but you’ll probably have to spend the night in the hospital.
How dangerous is a stent?
Some risks could be:
- Your skin is bleeding where the tube was put in by the doctor.
- The tube could hurt your blood vessel.
- Strange heartbeat
About 1% to 2% of people with a stent may get a blood clot where the stent is placed. You could have a heart attack or stroke if you do this. The first few months after the procedure are when you are most likely to get a blood clot.
After putting in a stent, your doctor may tell you to take aspirin or another blood-thinning drug to keep blood from clotting. You might have to take the medicine for a month, a year, or the rest of your life.
These easy steps can help you get better quickly:
- Ask your doctor if you should or shouldn’t take any medicines before the procedure.
- Follow the directions for taking your medicines, and don’t stop taking them before your doctor tells you to.
- Tell your doctor if the spot where they put the tube hurts, swells, or turns red. These are all signs of an infection.
- Don’t do hard workouts or lift heavy things afterward. Your doctor will let you know when you can start working out.
- Follow up on all of your appointments.
What Happens After You Get a Stent?
If everything goes well, your heart will get more blood and you’ll have less chest pain. But coronary heart disease can’t be cured with a stent.
By making a few changes to the way you live, you can help stop plaque from building up in your arteries:
- Exercise more
- If you’re too heavy, you should lose some weight.
- Those who smoke should give up the habit.
- Lessen the stress
- Take all of the medicines your doctor gives you.
You could go back to work in about a week. Ask your doctor if you aren’t sure if you can do certain things with a stent.