I had a coronary artery stent put in several years ago.
I was experiencing an unusual pressure in my jaw along with a few other symptoms, so I had it checked out.
After a series of tests, I was told that I needed to have a heart stent put in immediately.
You may be wondering:
Following are the answers to those questions, as well as my own personal experience with having a heart stent put in…
According to the American Heart Association:
A stent is a wire metal mesh tube used to prop open an artery during angioplasty. The stent is collapsed to a small diameter and put over a balloon catheter. It’s then moved into the area of the blockage. When the balloon is inflated, the stent expands, locks in place and forms a scaffold. This holds the artery open. The stent stays in the artery permanently, holds it open, improves blood flow to the heart muscle and relieves symptoms (usually chest pain). Within a few weeks of the time the stent was placed, the inside lining of the artery (the endothelium) grows over the metal surface of the stent. Source
Compare this to balloon angioplasty — a means of opening up blocked arteries that dates back to 1977. With balloon angioplasty, a deflated balloon is inserted into the blocked artery, inflated for 30 to 60 seconds, then removed. Often, however, the blockage would return.
A deflated balloon is mounted over a skinny catheter and delivered to the coronary artery blockage over a flexible guide wire. The balloon was inflated for about 30 to 60 seconds to open up the blocked passage. However, it suffered from a disadvantage. Although the results looked very good immediately after deflation and removal of the balloon catheter, the blockage would partially return, similar to a sponge becoming larger after being squeezed. This is known as “recoil.” Recoil causes the channel to become smaller after having been enlarged by balloon expansion. In other words, a 90% blockage may improve to 20% immediately after PTCA. However, recoil may cause the blockage to worsen and become 30-50% in severity within 15-30 minutes. Source
In 1993, the coronary artery stent that is commonly used today was invented. Their longterm success — in terms of preventing arteries from becoming blocked — again has been significant.
Coronary stents were introduced to combat “recoil.” A stent is a stainless tube with slots. It is mounted on a balloon catheter in a “crimped” or collapsed state. When the balloon is inflated, the stent expands or opens up and pushes itself against the coronary artery blockage. This holds the artery open after the balloon is deflated and removed. Stents behave like a cage that holds the expanded material in place and markedly reduces the amount of recoil. Source
If you’re experiencing symptoms that are commonly associated with a heart attack, you may have coronary artery disease.
A heart stent can help to alleviate those symptoms.
The most common symptoms of coronary heart disease include:
The coronary arteries provide blood to the heart muscle. They are, in essence, pipes conveying oxygenated blood to the heart muscle. These arteries can have partial blockage from cholesterol plaques obstructing blood flow. When the muscle doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can cause chest pain. In extreme cases it can cause a myocardial infarction or heart attack, which means some of the heart muscle dies. Source
I had pressure under my jaw and my hand moved as if it had commands from another brain.
I went to the emergency room and they kept me. The doctors ran several tests on me including an electrocardiogram.
My primary care doctor saw a small anomaly on the readout of the electrocardiogram. She sent me to have an MRI on a machine especially made to examine the heart.
These videos show how the 2 procedures are done:
I couldn’t eat or drink anything for 8 hours before my angiogram.
My surgeon did the angiogram to pinpoint where he needed to place the coronary artery stent.
Here’s how it went:
All medical procedures come with some risks.
There are some alternatives to having a coronary artery stent put in. For example, medication can dilate the blood vessels in the heart. However, medication can’t make the blockages in your arteries go away.
Alternatives to angioplasty include heart medications and coronary artery bypass surgery (also known as open heart surgery). Medication can dilate the blood vessels in the heart, but it can’t make blockages go away. Bypass surgery requires general anesthesia, and it involves replacing a damaged artery in your heart with a healthy blood vessel or a man-made graft. The goal of these alternatives is to increase blood flow to the heart. Source
I enjoy writing, photography, and sharing my personal experiences in life with others along the way.
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