Drug-eluting stents prevent a
coronary artery from narrowing again after
angioplasty. They are coated with medicine that prevents scar tissue from growing into the artery.
Stents are small, expandable
tubes that are inserted during angioplasty into a narrowed or blocked section of the
coronary artery to open the artery and improve blood flow.
See a picture of a
stent . Drug-eluting stents are used more often than
How are stents placed in an artery?
During an angioplasty,
a stent is permanently inserted into the coronary artery.
slideshow on angioplasty to see how an angioplasty is
See a picture of
stent placement .
During angioplasty, the balloon
is placed inside the stent and inflated, which opens the stent and pushes it
into place against the artery wall to keep the narrowed artery open. Because
the stent is like woven mesh, the cells lining the blood vessel grow through
and around the stent to help secure it. Your doctor may use a bare metal stent or a drug-eluting stent.
To decide which type of stent to use, your doctor will consider your overall health and your risk of a heart attack. He or she will also consider whether you can and want to take blood-thinning medicines for at least one year.
How do drug-eluting stents work?
All stents have a risk that scar tissue will
form and narrow the artery again. This scar tissue can block blood flow. But
drug-eluting stents are coated with drugs that prevent scar tissue from growing
into the artery. Drug-eluting stents may lower the chance that you will need a
second procedure (angioplasty or surgery) to open the artery again.
Living with a stent
You don't have to live differently if you have a stent. But you'll want to take care of your heart by eating healthy, being active, and taking your medicines. There are a few precautions to follow.
Aspirin and other antiplatelet medicines. Take your blood-thinning medicines to prevent a heart attack or stroke. After angioplasty, you will probably take aspirin
plus another antiplatelet. If you get a
drug-eluting stent, you will probably take both of these medicines for at least
1 year. If you get a bare metal stent, you will take both medicines for at
least 1 month but maybe up to 1 year. Then you will likely take daily
aspirin long-term. If you have a high risk of bleeding, your doctor may shorten
the time you take these medicines.
Stent identification card. Carry your stent identification card. Your doctor will give you a card for your wallet or purse that you can show to your health professionals so they know that you have a stent.