People above 70 have heart stent placement for proper heart muscle functioning. Stent placement does have some side effects.
What are these stents? A stent serves what purpose? Let us discuss and understand the heart, the blood vessel, and other concepts step by step.
Functioning of Heart and Blood Vessel
We all are aware of the importance and functioning of the heart. With a system of blood vessels, the heart is our prime circulatory organ.
As the heart beats, it initiates blood flow, nutrients, and oxygen to the body. Also, it controls heart rate and blood pressure.
Veins, Arteries, and Capillaries make up the blood vessels in our body. Arteries distribute oxygen-rich blood from the heart throughout the body.
Back to the heart, oxygen-poor blood travels through the Veins. Whereas, Capillaries connect the Veins and the Arteries.
Types of Arteries
Arteries are of three types: Elastic, Muscular, and Arterioles. Elastic Arteries are the Pulmonary Artery and the Aorta. Muscular Arteries are the Femoral and the Coronary Arteries. Arterioles are smaller branches of arteries distributing blood through Capillaries.
Role of Coronary Artery
Coronary arteries are muscular arteries that have a layer of smooth muscle fibers. Thus, these arteries contract and expand, thereby regulating the blood flow. Heart muscles receive oxygen-rich blood from the coronary artery.
At times, this coronary artery gets blocked, narrowed, and hardened. It happens due to the accumulation of plaques (fatty substances) in the blood vessel. It results in Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) or Coronary Heart Disease (CHD).
This abnormal health condition is Atherosclerosis, and the fatty substances, Atheroma. As the artery narrows, oxygen-rich blood cannot reach the heart.
Causes and Symptoms of Coronary Heart Disease (CHD)
The CHD causes are smoking, alcohol, high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, and lipoproteins. Other factors for developing CHD are obesity or being overweight or a family history of CHD. The possible symptoms of CHD are chest pain, a heart attack, or heart failure.
The PubMed [National Library of Medicine (NIH)] posts facts on CAD. It explains the possible risks of coronary artery disease (CAD).
What are the side effects of heart stents? Chest pain, heart attack, and high blood pressure affect cardiovascular health. Hence, it’s fundamental to reduce the symptoms of a blocked coronary artery. The procedure to open a blocked artery is Coronary Angioplasty.
Coronary Angioplasty is a surgical procedure for a blocked artery. It has an alternative name called Percutaneous Coronary Intervention. It opens the clogged arteries and restores blood flow to the heart muscles.
What is a Stent?
Angioplasty uses a thin tube or catheter with a small balloon. This balloon catheter dilates the blocked blood vessel. This device is a tiny tube inserted into the blocked artery called a Coronary Stent.
This stent is a metal or plastic tube with a small balloon at the tip. Doctors place these stents into the blocked passageway to keep the artery open.
Once the catheter reaches the blocked arteries, the balloon inflates. Stent holds and secures blocked coronary arteries, and blood flows into the heart.
Angioplasty and stent placement are common these days with the least invasive techniques. Stenting is a better procedure than open heart surgery.
Types of Stents
The types of stents used for different medical conditions vary.
The two main stents are the bare metal stent and the drug-eluting stent. Both of these are Coronary Stents. They help treat the disease of the coronary arteries.
As seen above, they are involved in Angioplasty. The majority of Angioplasty treatments use Coronary Stents.
Bare Metal Stents – Bare Metal stents (BMS) are thin mesh-like metal tubes without any coating or bare. Developed in the 1990s, these treated diseases of coronary arteries. They are, however, of limited use since they cause arteries to re-narrow.
Drug-Eluting Stents – Drug-Eluting stents (DES) are coronary stents with medicinal coating. The Drug-Eluting Stent (DES) prevents the narrowing of blood vessels and arteries. Also, they help prevent inflammation of coronary arteries.
Let us discuss the other types of stents in brief.
Esophageal Stents – Esophageal stents treat Advanced Esophageal Cancer. They keep the Esophagus open for swallowing foods and liquids.
Biliary and Pancreatic Stents – These stents help treat blocked bile ducts. As a result of their assistance, the gallbladder and pancreas remove bile from the small intestine.
Ureteral Stents – Ureteral stents treat kidney disease. They prevent urine obstruction from kidneys when placed inside a Ureter. These stents hold the Ureter open if narrowed.
Colonic Stents – Colonic Stents help treat Advanced Colon Cancer. Additionally, they help with bowel movements and bowel blockage.
Peripheral Vascular Stents – These stents keep the blood vessels open. These blood vessels are outside the coronary arteries.
Stent Grafts – Stent grafts are fabric stents placed in Aorta. They get support with a rigid metal stent.
Process of Coronary Angioplasty
A cardiologist is a heart specialist who performs the Angioplasty. Nursing and technical staff assist the heart specialist during the procedure. It takes place in an operating room called the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory.
The process of Angioplasty requires a stay at the hospital overnight. The Angioplasty procedure is as follows:
First, the person receives fluids and other medications through an IV (Intravenous) line. These fluids and medications pass in the hand or arm.
The doctor decides to check the person’s medical history. Then they conduct a physical exam. Then, they perform several tests like Electrocardiogram (ECG), chest X-ray, and blood tests.
Next, the Electrocardiogram (ECG) determines the heart rate and electrical activity. Furthermore, the person’s oxygen levels, pulse, and blood pressure are also monitored.
Additionally, the person also receives sedatives through the IV line for relaxation. The doctor then applies an antiseptic solution to the legs, arms, and wrist. Then they place sterile sheets over the body.
Then, the doctor gives a local anesthetic for numbness. Following it, they make a surgical incision into the numbed area.
Further, they insert a plastic tube into the blood vessel. Then the doctor threads the catheter into the artery. Again, they advance the catheter into the heart through the Aorta.
After stent placement, doctors prescribe medications to prevent blood clots.
Then, they inject contrast dye through the catheter into the coronary artery. It gives a view of the interior of the blood vessel to identify any blockage through X-ray imaging.
The person may experience some after-effects of the dye after injection. This unusual feeling lasts for a few moments.
Then, a small balloon inflates at the tip of the catheter and widens the blocked coronary artery. Here, blood flow gets blocked, causing chest pain or discomfort.
The person may also experience arm pain, shortness of breath, back pain, neck or jaw pain.
After widening the artery, the doctor takes measurements, angiogram images, and pictures.
Then the doctor removes the catheter and deflates the balloon. In various blockages, they may repeat the procedure at each blockage area.
Steps Followed After Angioplasty
After Angioplasty, the person must follow tips and precautions for protecting the heart.
The person needs bed rest in the hospital for a few hours. A nurse will check the heart, the catheter insertion site, and other medications. She may also check the person’s pulse and blood pressure.
Based on the results and procedure, the stay at the hospital may vary. Doctors will give detailed instructions about discharge and recovery time.
After returning home, the doctor advises the person to drink water and more fluids. Therefore, it aids the body in flushing out contrast dye.
The person can follow a usual diet pattern after the procedure. For the safer side, seeking a doctor’s advice is essential.
Doctors may ask the person to avoid strenuous exercises. Also, the person could avoid physical activity like lifting heavy objects.
What are the Side Effects of Heart Stents?
What are the side effects of heart stents? Most stents stay in the artery permanently and keep it open. Although a stent helps treat clogged arteries, it also has side effects. Let us understand the side effects and risks associated with heart stents.
Re-Narrowing of the Artery
While using a bare metal stent in Angioplasty, there is an increased risk of clogged arteries. It results in the re-narrowing of the coronary arteries.
One of the most severe complications associated with heart stents is blood clotting. This medical abnormality is Thrombosis, and the blood clot is Thrombus.
These blood clots damage the blood vessel. It may travel through blood vessels and create blockage in other body parts.
Blood clots can also result in a stroke or a heart attack. To prevent blood clots, doctors give aspirin in combination with specific drugs.
The contrast dye used in Angioplasty may result in complications like kidney damage. It is a contrast agent or substance injected through the catheter.
Angiogram is an X-ray method that uses this dye to view blocked coronary arteries. It has an alternate name called Cardiac Catheterisation.
Doctors try protecting the kidneys by limiting the amount of contrast dye. Also, they make sure the person remains hydrated during the process. Sometimes, an allergic reaction occurs to dyes used in the procedure.
Chest Pain occurs due to the process of Re-Stenosis. It refers to the re-narrowing of the arteries due to Angioplasty at the stent placement.
This condition arises when there is abnormal tissue growth within the coronary artery. Treating Re-Stenosis involves either Angioplasty or a drug-eluting stent.
Suggested Reading: How to get rid of Chest Congestion fast?
Heart attacks occur due to a blood clot accompanied by chest pain. Although heart attack occurs rarely, it is one of the most dangerous complications.
Anti-clotting medications like blood thinners reduce blood clots, also called Anticoagulants. A heart attack may result from these anti-clotting medications blocking the stent.
The person may experience bleeding at the insertion site of the catheter. Usually, it results in a bruise, but in contrast, it can cause severe bleeding. The other blood vessels also damage due to bleeding from the insertion site.
A stent keeps the artery open. The person may experience a stroke when the plaques bust out. It may happen with the threading of the catheter through the Aorta.
Stroke is an unusual complication with Angioplasty. Blood thinners are a remedy for reducing risk in this process.
Abnormal Heart Rhythms
In the Angioplasty procedure, the person may experience an irregular heartbeat. The person may have a slow or fast heartbeat. This condition is Arrhythmia.
Such an abnormality is short-term but sometimes requires medications or a temporary pacemaker.
Damage to Coronary Artery
The coronary artery might tear or rupture with Angioplasty. In such complications, the person may need an emergency bypass surgery.
Stent Graft Failure
When the stent grafts move from their position, it may cause stent failure and blood leakage.
Symptoms of heart disease may appear in the person. Still, it could also be asymptomatic. Medical professionals use Ultrasonography or Computed Tomography (CT) to diagnose stent graft complications.
What are the side effects of heart stents? Stent is the best alternative to bypass surgery. Moreover, it does not need general anesthesia. But it does exhibit severe complications. Stenting and Angioplasty do not permanently cure heart disease.
It’s an individual’s responsibility to maintain a healthy heart after Angioplasty. Consuming a healthy diet with less saturated fat helps maintain a healthy weight. It also helps reduce diabetes, heart attack, and blood pressure.
Moreover, one must put in place healthy lifestyle changes. These are quitting smoking, regular exercising, and lowering cholesterol levels. It is also crucial to take medications prescribed by the doctor.