A stent is a tiny mesh tube that fits inside an artery. It opens the artery to allow unobstructed blood flow to the heart, and it’s one of the most effective treatments for coronary artery disease.
Getting a stent requires a minimally invasive procedure called angioplasty. And if your loved one just found out they need a stent, it’s normal to have questions.
Kunal Patel, MD, and our team at NJ Cardiovascular Institute specialize in heart care. We take a holistic approach to heart disease treatment, and we work with patients and their families to manage their health.
Here’s what you need to know if your loved one is scheduled for angioplasty.
When is a stent necessary?
Stents treat coronary artery disease, the most common type of heart disease. If you have coronary artery disease, plaque builds up in the arteries that transport blood to your heart, restricting blood flow, causing chest pain, and making your heart work harder.
There’s no cure for coronary artery disease, but it can be managed with medication and lifestyle changes. Unfortunately, these conservative treatments aren’t always enough for severe heart disease.
Angioplasty is a procedure that places a small mesh tube called a stent into an artery. The stent opens narrowed or blocked arteries to improve heart health and lower your risk of complications, including heart attack.
What to expect during angioplasty
Angioplasty is a minimally invasive procedure with local anesthesia. Depending on your loved one’s health, we may administer a sedative to help them relax, and they may or may not be awake during the procedure.
Dr. Patel begins by cleaning an area of skin where he makes a small incision. This might be in the arm, wrist, leg, or groin.
He inserts a thin wire (catheter) through the incision and into a blood vessel, then uses X-ray imaging to guide the wire to the blocked artery. Once it’s in place, he inflates a small balloon to expand the artery and then places the mesh stent.
If your loved one has more than one blocked artery, Dr. Patel can place multiple stents in a single procedure. Angioplasty can take up to several hours from start to finish.
We monitor your loved one’s heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen level throughout the procedure. Once all blockages are addressed, we move them into recovery.
What happens after angioplasty
After angioplasty, the patient usually stays in the hospital overnight so their condition can be monitored. We keep a close eye on your loved one’s heart and make adjustments to their heart medication as needed.
The next day, your loved one can go home. We give you at-home care instructions, such as making sure they drink plenty of fluids and rest for a few days. Expect activity to be limited for about a week, at which point they can return to work and their usual routine.
Call Dr. Patel right away if you notice bleeding, swelling, or signs of infection where we inserted the catheter, or if your loved one experiences pain, discomfort, weakness, or shortness of breath.
Your loved one’s medications may change after angioplasty, so it’s important to follow the doctor’s instructions. Angioplasty doesn’t cure heart disease, and they need regular follow-up care to maintain their heart health.
When a blocked artery threatens your loved one’s health, a stent could be the best solution. Send us a message online or call one of our offices in Elizabeth, Lakewood, Paramus, or Secaucus, New Jersey, to learn more.