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Find out how it helps
maintain your stent.
To help you understand the importance of maintaining your new stent, it may help to know more about the medical procedure you’ve undergone. Because you experienced a heart attack or heart-related chest pain while at rest (unstable angina), you underwent a procedure known as angioplasty. During this procedure, your doctor may have placed a stent inside the blocked or partially blocked artery in your heart. If so, you’re not alone: in 70%–90% of cases, angioplasty involves the insertion of a stent.
What is PCI?
A percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) is often called balloon angioplasty, because it is performed using a slender balloon-tipped tube called a catheter. The catheter is threaded through an artery in the groin (femoral artery) or wrist (radial artery) to the trouble spot in a heart artery. The balloon is then inflated, pushing back the plaque, widening the narrowed artery so that blood can flow more easily.
Your arteries carry oxygen and nutrients, as well as blood cells and platelets, to the organs throughout the body, including the heart itself. Sometimes plaque—a substance made up of cholesterol, fatty deposits, calcium and other materials in the body—can build up in your arteries.
Over time, plaque built up on the heart artery walls. The plaque buildup ruptured (broke apart) and a blood clot formed over the rupture site. This resulted in a complete or partial blockage in one of your heart arteries. It restricted the flow of blood to your heart. Because your heart was not getting enough blood, it was deprived of oxygen and vital nutrients and stopped working properly. As a result, you suffered an acute coronary syndrome (ACS) event.
To open the blockage in your artery, your cardiologist performed a percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), which may have included a stent procedure. That means a balloon with a stent wrapped around it was inflated to push the plaque back against your artery wall. When the stent around the balloon was expanded, it locked in place to hold the artery open. This improved blood flow to your heart.
What is a stent?
A stent is a tiny structure made of wire mesh, similar to a spring found inside a ballpoint pen. Many patients who have had a heart attack or chest pain will have an angioplasty procedure, which usually includes a stent placement. When the balloon is inflated during an angioplasty, the stent expands, locks in place, and holds the artery open.
There are two different types of stents—drug-eluting stents and bare-metal stents. Your doctor has decided which stent is right for you. A drug-eluting stent has a medicated coating that is slowly released over time to prevent the artery from narrowing again. This is called restenosis. A stent that is not coated with a drug is called a bare-metal stent.
Precautions following a stent procedure.
To help avoid the formation of future blood clots within your stent and arteries, your doctor has prescribed antiplatelet medication. Antiplatelets such as Effient and aspirin help keep platelets from sticking together and forming clots that block your heart arteries or stent. Because Effient reduces clotting, Effient can also cause bleeding. If you have unexplained or excessive bleeding while on Effient, contact your doctor right away as some bleeding can be serious, and sometimes fatal.