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Because you have recently experienced a heart attack or heart-related chest pain while at rest (unstable angina) and undergone angioplasty, it's important to know all you can so that you are better prepared to maintain your heart, your stent, and your health. As always, if you have questions or concerns, you should speak with your doctor.

Why and how you got your stent.

A stent's job is to keep the walls of an artery open. You had a complete or partial heart artery blockage (clot) that caused an acute coronary syndrome (ACS) event. That means you experienced either unstable angina or heart attack. You can learn more about these conditions and others below or by watching the video.

Acute coronary syndrome is a general term used to describe the chest pain and other symptoms associated with unstable angina and acute myocardial infarction. This chest pain is due to insufficient blood supply to the heart muscle from a complete or partial blockage in a coronary artery.

What is unstable angina?

Unstable angina is a type of heart-related chest pain that occurs when the heart doesn’t get enough oxygen. It is unexpected and usually happens while at rest. People who suffer from unstable angina often describe it feeling like a heaviness or tightness in the chest, aching or squeezing, or a fullness or burning of the chest. It may also include pain in the arm, shoulder or neck.

What is acute myocardial infarction?

This is a medical term for a heart attack, which occurs when the blood supply to part of the heart muscle itself—the myocardium—is severely reduced or stopped, depriving it of oxygen and other nutrients and resulting in the death of the heart muscle. Symptoms of acute myocardial infarction may feel similar to, or more severe than, unstable angina.

Recognize the symptoms of a heart attack.

Despite the steps you are taking to ensure your heart stays healthy, it is still important that you remain cautious and be aware of the symptoms of another heart attack. Symptoms that can occur with a heart attack include but are not limited to:
  • Angina (chest pain or pressure), the most common symptom
  • Pain in the neck, shoulder, arm, back, and jaw
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness or dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Palpitations (irregular heartbeats, skipped beats or a "flip-flop" feeling in your chest)
  • A faster heartbeat

If you are experiencing symptoms of a heart attack, do not drive yourself to the hospital. Instead, call EMS (Emergency Medical Services)—or the equivalent 9-1-1 service in your area—immediately. Not only can these medical professionals get you to the hospital, but they are trained to provide care to heart patients. Do not wait to get help.