Facts About Angioplasty Stents
Angioplasty stents are usually the first and most widely used procedure for a heart attack. If the patient is a candidate for the operation, angioplasty is favored because it is less invasive than bypass surgery, has a much faster recovery period, and involves less risks of complications. The goal of this operation is to clear out the plaque and cholesterol that is in the clogged or narrowed artery, and reopen it with the stent. After this has been accomplished, the blood flow to the heart muscle is once again established.
Before your angioplasty, you will not be allowed to eat or drink anything after midnight. You will probably be told to take an aspirin before the procedure. Be sure you follow all instructions no matter how insignificant they may seem. You will remain awake during your angioplasty in case the doctor needs to communicate with you.
Before the angioplasty you will be given a sedative to relax you for the procedure, and then the physician will numb the area where the catheter will be entering; usually this is the groin, but sometimes he may use an arm. After the area is numbed, a plastic sheath is inserted into the artery and a hollow tube called a catheter is guided through the sheath up to the arteries surrounding the heart.
Once the catheter is in place a coronary angiography and cardiac catheterization are performed to locate where the blockage or blockages are occurring. This is done by inserting dye with iodine through the catheter, which can be seen on a digital x-ray machine as it passes through the heart, valves, and major blood vessels.
When the blockage is found, the catheter is advanced to the vessel in question and a small balloon placed over a guide wire is used to insert the stent into the narrowed or blocked artery. Once the stent is in place, the balloon is inflated, causing the mesh like material to be forced against the walls of the artery. After the stent has been inserted, the balloon is deflated, and removed. Placing a stent in the walls of the artery greatly reduces the chance of the vessel becoming blocked or narrowed again.
Inserting angioplasty stents usually takes the physician around two hours. After the operation you will be moved to a recovery room where your vital signs will be closely monitored. If there are no complications, in 12-18 hours you will be up and walking around. Within another 24 hours you will be allowed to return home.
When you return home you will be given a prescription for some medications called antiplatelets to help prevent another stroke or heart attack. You will also be told to take aspirin on a daily basis for the long term.
You have more than likely had heart problems in part because of your lifestyle. You will be given a low fat, low cholesterol, and low sodium diet. You will also be given instructions or suggestions for an exercise plan. If you desire for your operation to be a long term success, it would be wise to follow all advice and instructions given. You can greatly reduce the chances of your angioplasty stents giving you any trouble, as well as your chance of more heart problems if you will only adhere to the advice of your physician.