What Is an Intracoronary Stent?

Troy Holmes

Coronary artery disease is medical condition that causes the arteries that supply the heart with blood and oxygen to shrink and become narrow. An intracoronary stent is a medical device that is placed inside the arteries to increase the width of blood vessels. This is accomplished by placing a small cylinder shaped mesh stent into the arteries using a medical procedure called angioplasty.

After an angioplasty procedure, an intracoronary stent should last for many years.
After an angioplasty procedure, an intracoronary stent should last for many years.

Angioplasty is a non-surgical procedure that is used for opening blocked arteries. During this procedure, the patient has a tiny hollow tube placed into one of his main arteries, normally the groin or arm. Once the tube reaches the blocked area of the artery a small metal mesh stent is placed inside the tube and put into the artery. Next, this mesh tube is blown up with a small balloon, which causes the blocked artery to expand. The intracoronary stent remains inside the expanded artery and provides support for the artery walls, keeping the artery expanded.

Doctors use sophisticated video technology called coronary angiograms to find blocked arteries in the heart. This is a form of x-ray imaging that displays blood vessels in the chest and heart. When an intracoronary stent is placed in an artery, angiograms are used to help guide the physician to the blocked area. This provides a video of the arteries while the stent is inserted into the blood vessels.

Having an angioplasty procedure has some risks. The placement of this tube can cause the arteries to tear, and at times, even cause a heart attack. An intracoronary stent should only be performed by a qualified cardiologist. This doctor specializes in heart surgery and understands how to handle unique situations with stent placement.

It is critical that a person change his diet and control his eating habits after having an intracoronary stent. This procedure is only necessary for people who have coronary artery disease, which is a condition that is typically genetic or self inflicted through bad eating habits. Having a stent is typically the last chance a person has to change his lifestyle and eating habits for the better. These lifestyle changes typically include exercise, good eating habits, and no smoking.

An intracoronary stent should last for many years, provided there are no complications and the patient follows the advice from the doctor on lifestyle changes. If a stent does become clogged, it may need to be replaced with a new stent. This procedure is similar to the original angioplasty process and is called in-stent restenosis.

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