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Stenting is a procedure to open narrowed or blocked blood vessels that supply blood to the heart. These blood vessels are called the coronary arteries.

Arteries can close up or narrow because of plaque that builds up inside the vessels (atherosclerosis). Plaque is made up of fat and cholesterol.

A coronary artery stent is a small, metal mesh tube that expands inside a coronary artery. It helps prevent the artery from closing up again.

Stenting may be used to treat:

  • Blockage in a coronary artery.

  • Narrowing of one or more coronary arteries, which may lead to poor heart function.

  • Narrowings that reduce blood flow and cause persistent chest pain (angina) that medicines do not control.

Why choose Presbyterian for your stenting?

Presbyterian Heart and Vascular Care has a skilled vascular care team who can provide a wide range of services from diagnosis to treatment. Their surgeons are trained in many different techniques and procedures, many of which can provide you with a shorter recovery period and less hospital time.

Who is eligible for a stenting procedure?

If you have blocked arteries, a stent can help improve blood flow to your heart by unblocking them.

By keeping an artery open, stents lower your risk of chest pain. They can also treat a heart attack that's in progress.

What conditions can be treated with stenting?

Stents are used to reduce symptoms in patients with obstructive artery disease who suffer chest pain/tightness or shortness of breath that might be experienced with exercise or during periods of strong emotions. Stents may be used instead of bypass surgery in some selected patients.

You may need a stent during an emergency procedure. An emergency procedure is more common if an artery of the heart called a coronary artery is blocked. Your doctor will first place a catheter into the blocked coronary artery. This will allow them to do a balloon angioplasty to open the blockage. They’ll then place a stent in the artery to keep the vessel open.

Stents can also help prevent aneurysms from rupturing in your brain, aorta, or other blood vessels.

How do I prepare for a stenting?

For a stent placed in a blood vessel, you’ll usually prepare by taking these steps:

  • Tell your doctor about any drugs, herbs, or supplements you take.

  • Avoid taking any drugs that make it harder for your blood to clot, such as aspirin, clopidogrel, ibuprofen, and naproxen.

  • Follow your doctor’s instructions about any other drugs you should stop taking.

  • Inform your doctor of any illnesses, including a common cold or flu.

  • Don’t drink water or any other fluids the night before your surgery.

  • Take any medications your doctor prescribes.

  • Arrive at the hospital with plenty of time to prepare for surgery.

  • Follow any other instructions your doctor gives you.

What should I expect during my stent placement?

Before the stent placement procedure begins, you will receive some pain medicine. You may also be given medicine that relaxes you and blood-thinning medicines to prevent a blood clot from forming.

There are several ways to insert a stent. Your doctor will make a small incision and use a catheter to guide specialized tools through your blood vessels to reach the area that needs a stent. This incision is usually in the groin or arm. One of those tools may have a camera to help your doctor guide the stent.

During the procedure, your doctor may also use an imaging technique called an angiogram to help guide the stent through the vessel.

Using the necessary tools, your doctor will locate the broken or blocked vessel and install the stent. Then they will remove the instruments from your body and close the incision.

The stent may be coated with a drug (called a drug-eluting stent). This type of stent may lower the chance of the artery closing back up in the future.

You’ll receive numbing medicine at the site of the incision. You’ll also get intravenous (IV) medication to help you relax during the procedure.

The average hospital stay is two days or less. Some people may not have to stay overnight. Complete recovery takes a week or less.

How do I care for myself after my stent placement?

Recovery from stenting is usually fast. Most patients can resume normal activities 24 hours after the procedure. Some people experience bruising, which will disappear in a few days.

Due to a heightened risk of clotting after stenting, treatment with Aspirin AND antiplatelet drugs (also called anti-clotting drugs) may be necessary for at least one year.

Make sure you understand the dosage and duration of the medications as detailed by your doctor. Do not stop these medications without consulting your cardiologist.

Stents help prevent arteries from becoming narrow or blocked again in the months or years after the procedure. However, they are not a cure.

Lifestyle changes you can make to improve your heart health include:

  • Reduce salt in your diet.
  • Maintain a healthy body weight.
  • Never smoke, or stop smoking.
  • Drink only moderate amounts of alcohol, if any. This means an average of one to two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women.
  • Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet, rich in fresh fruit and vegetables but low in saturated fats, processed sugar, and salt.
  • If you have diabetes, work closely with your doctor to make sure it is controlled.
  • Get at least 150 minutes of moderate to intense physical exercise every week.