The naturally smooth and flexible interior walls of arteries promote the efficient movement of blood through the vessels. Over time, the artery walls can develop abnormal accumulations of fatty deposits and plaque that impede the flow of blood.
When the heart does not receive sufficient blood, it causes a painful condition known as angina. The pain typically occurs when your heart rate increases in response to sustained periods of physical exertion or emotional stress. If blood flow is interrupted for a prolonged period, the heart muscle starts to die, which triggers a myocardial infarction, or a heart attack. To reduce the risk of this life-threatening condition, heart specialists use interventions like stents to open the arteries and improve blood flow. Coronary stenting is beneficial for the patient in a variety of ways.
In the past, the surgeon may have opted for angioplasty. During this procedure, a deflated balloon is inserted into the artery through an incision in the upper thigh. The balloon is then inflated, which causes the artery to expand. This procedure has some shortcomings. The balloon may not expand evenly due to the varying degree of hardness inside the artery.
A portion of the blocked artery may also spring back into place when the balloon is deflated. This can create an uneven surface that fosters the growth of additional plaque and fatty deposits. Coronary stenting helps overcome these potential complications.
A catheter, or thin hollow tube, is inserted into the artery in a similar fashion as angioplasty. It is guided to the site of the blockage. A wire is passed through the catheter beyond the site of the blockage, which is used as a guide rail for the stent. The stent is collapsed around a balloon.
When the stent is in place, the balloon is inflated to expand the stent. When the balloon is deflated and removed, the stent remains embedded in the wall of the artery. The stent creates a smooth surface inside the artery. Acting like a type of scaffolding support, it also prevents recoil so that the artery maintains a consistent diameter.
The result is that patients experience better blood flow than with traditional angioplasty. The smooth surface reduces the risk that cholesterol deposits will accumulate on the walls of the artery. Natural materials cover the stent within a few weeks. This extremely safe procedure usually takes less than one hour.
During a consultation at Cardiology Consultants of Southwest Florida in Fort Myers, our heart specialist will review your medical history, perform a thorough examination and arrange the appropriate diagnostic tests. The results will enable the physician to determine whether you are a suitable candidate for coronary stenting. Contact us today to schedule your appointment to learn more.