Coronary Stents – Uses & Types of Stents


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Stents are small, expandable wire-mesh devices that are placed into clogged arteries to open the narrowed portion of the vessel. In patients with coronary heart disease due to plaque build up, stents are used to treat the condition to reduce symptoms of chest pain (angina) and prevent heart attack.

Stenting is a minimally invasive procedure and is performed under local anaesthesia but sometimes mild sedation is required. The procedure usually takes about an hour or so but can take longer if multiple stents are implanted.

Types of Stents
There are three main types of stents.

Metal Stents: These are also known as bare metal stents. These lattice-shaped tubes are made of metallic mesh. They are placed in the artery merely for their structural support in keeping a blood vessel open, after it has been dilated during angioplasty (a surgical method for widening obstructed blood arteries). As the artery heals after surgery, tissue grows around the stent to grasp and hold it in place.

Limitation of this type of stent arises when the overgrown tissue creates its own form of occlusion for the artery, necessitating further surgical procedures.

Drug-Eluting Stent: These medicated stents are infused or coated with drugs that are released slowly to inhibit the growth of scar tissue, which usually occurs with bare metal stents. Drug-eluting stents keep the blood vessel open for long and lessen the likelihood of repeat surgery.

Plastic Stent: Plastic stents are used as an alternative to metal stents, which can damage the blood vessels. These are made of a lactic acid polymer and can be absorbed by the body over 18 to 24 months. During this period the blood vessel heals and gets strengthened and by the time the stent gets dissolved, the blood vessel is repaired and the stent is no longer needed to support it.

These stents are preferred in children because they dissolve after the artery heals, while children outgrow metal stents, leading them to become loose and posing a hazard.

Living with a stent

You don’t have to lead a drastically different life even if you have a stent placed in you. But taking care of your heart by eating healthy, being active and taking your medicines is imperative. Few precautions to follow other than a healthy lifestyle are,

Aspirin/anti-platelet medicines: Take your prescribed blood-thinning medicines regularly to prevent a heart attack or stroke after angioplasty.

Stent identification card: Always carry your stent identification card given by your doctor in your wallet.

Medical tests and surgery: Whenever you go for any health checkup or tests, tell your doctor about the stent. Several tests and procedures can get affected because of the metallic presence in the body.