When a patient undergoes coronary angioplasty to widen and correct a blocked or narrowed artery, a heart stent is often implanted inside the previously clogged heart artery. This is most often needed in an emergency, like during a heart attack.
With a stent implanted, there is less chance of a once blocked artery becoming restricted again than with coronary angioplasty alone.
People come from across the Pacific Northwest and beyond to take advantage of Northwest Regional Heart & Vascular’s expert team of cardiac interventional specialists and their vast experience with these procedures.
How heart stents work
A stent is a small, wire mesh tube about the size of a ballpoint pen spring. This tube is inserted to help keep the artery open. Many stents are coated with medication that helps keep the artery open and allows oxygen-rich blood to flow normally.
The stent is placed in an artery using cardiac catheterization. This technique involves guiding a thin tube directly to the affected area via a blood vessel in the groin.
The procedure takes place in our high-tech catheterization laboratory (cath lab). Patients are sedated before this quick, effective treatment begins.
The procedure begins with catheter being threaded to the site of the blockage. Once there, the stent is expanded and securely implanted to keep the artery open and blood flowing. Typically, the procedure takes less than an hour.
After the heart stent procedure
Stent procedures have little chance of complications when patients carefully follow their instructions for after they go home. To prevent clotting, most patients will take aspirin as well as an additional anticlotting medication for six months to a year after the stent is placed.
During these post-op months, a layer of tissue that normally lines arteries will grow to cover the stent’s inside surface. Once the healing process is complete, the anticlotting drug is no longer necessary.
Are you a candidate for a heart stent?
Every patient’s situation is as unique as they are. The best way to know if a heart stent is right for you and your condition is to meet with our team. If your doctor has ordered heart stenting, our scheduler will be in touch with you to help you schedule your procedure.