A stent is a tiny mesh tube inserted at the blockage site to help the artery stay open. Like a bridge support, it prevents the artery from collapsing. Along with providing immediate help by keeping the artery open, stenting has long-term benefits because it can eliminate many factors causing restenosis, including regulating the size of the arterial opening and decreasing the effects of arterial wall thickening. Nowadays you also get stents, which are coated, with drugs that prevent restenosis.
Will I be conscious during Angioplasty?
Unlike operation, angioplasty is done under local anesthesia. This makes the procedure painless. You will be mildly sedated but conscious. You can communicate with the doctors during the procedure. If you desire you can even see your angioplasty, live on the monitor screen!
What are complications of Angioplasty?
The procedure is relatively safe when performed by experienced hands. However it does carry some risk of mortality, which varies from 1-2%. This is much smaller than the risk of the natural disease. During the procedure there is 3-4% chance of abrupt blockage of the same artery requiring an emergency surgery. The risk of complications is directly proportional to the severity of the underlying disease. The various study data of coronary angioplasty shows restenosis rate of approx. 5%-30% depending upon the type of angioplasty and stent used. Restenosis usually occurs during the first 6 months.
How long will this last?
With the newer advances, the incidence of the recurring blockage (restenosis) is reducing rapidly. Without the stent i.e. with the plain old balloon angioplasty, the recurrence rate is around 25-30%. With the regular stents there is recurrence rate of about 12%-15%. With the newer DES (Drug Eluting Stents), the incidence is only 3-9%.
Can future procedures be avoided?
Ideally after the angioplasty, you must modify your life style, have aggressive control of risk factors, use of proper medications, light exercise, yoga and meditation. Normally with these methods, additional plaque and blockages should not form. However, restenosis can occur for a variety of reasons, some of which have to do with the nature's way to heal or the strength of the arterial walls.
The best advice is to follow your doctor's instructions and be meticulous about routine cardiac check-ups. This will insure that future blockages, if at all any, are detected and treated quickly. If you experience any chest pain or discomfort, contact your doctor and seek medical help immediately.