Percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), the procedure used to place stents, is a common medical procedure that is sometimes referred to as coronary angioplasty. PCI carries a small risk of serious complications, such as:
Another problem that can occur after PCI is too much tissue growth within the treated portion of the artery. This can cause the artery to become narrow or blocked again. When this happens, it's called restenosis (RE-sten-no-sis).
Using drug-eluting stents can help prevent this problem. These stents are coated with medicine to stop excess tissue growth.
Treating the tissue around the stent with radiation also can delay tissue growth. For this procedure, the doctor threads a wire through a catheter to the stent. The wire releases radiation and stops cells around the stent from growing and blocking the artery.
About 1–2 percent of people who have stented arteries develop a blood clot at the stent site. Blood clots can cause a heart attack, stroke, or other serious problems. The risk of blood clots is greatest during the first few months after the stent is placed in the artery.
Your doctor will likely recommend that you take aspirin and another anticlotting medicine, such as clopidogrel, for at least 1 month or up to a year or more after having a stent procedure. These medicines help prevent blood clots.
The length of time you need to take anticlotting medicines depends on the type of stent you have. Your doctor may recommend lifelong treatment with aspirin.
Stents coated with medicine may raise your risk of dangerous blood clots. (These stents often are used to keep clogged heart arteries open.) However, research hasn't proven that these stents increase the chances of having a heart attack or dying, if used as recommended.
Although rare, a few serious problems can occur when surgery or a fabric stent is used to repair an aneurysm in the abdominal aorta. These problems include:
Another possible problem is the fabric stent moving further down the aorta. This sometimes happens years after the stent is first placed. The stent movement may require a doctor to place another fabric stent in the area of the aneurysm.
How are stents placed?
Clinical trials are research studies that explore whether a medical strategy, treatment, or device is safe and effective for humans. To find clinical trials that are currently underway for Stents, visit www.clinicaltrials.gov.
August 19, 2014
Gary H. Gibbons
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