Stents: Getting to The Heart of It

In the last 20 years, treatment options have proven so commonplace and effective in treating coronary artery disease (CAD), the most common type of heart disease, that many patients spend little time asking doctors about treatment advances and benefits. They instead limit their questions to economic or logistical matters, but instead the questions should be focused on how quickly they can get back to their daily lives.

A recent Harris survey showed that most Americans have little information about stents, so what are the other questions that patients should be asking? What are the latest developments in stent technology? What benefits do these advances offer patients? Who are the best candidates?

“A stent is a tiny wire mesh tube. It props open an artery and is left there permanently. When a coronary artery (an artery feeding the heart muscle) is narrowed by a buildup of fatty deposits called plaque, it can reduce blood flow. If blood flow is reduced to the heart muscle, chest pain can result. If a clot forms and completely blocks the blood flow to part of the heart muscle, a heart attack results,” according to the American Heart Association.

While this may seem like a scary prospect for many patients across the nation, there are also some proven benefits to this, and things that can help to increase a persons comfort level when experiencing it. “In certain patients, stents reduce the re-narrowing that sometimes occurs after balloon angioplasty or other procedures that use catheters. Patients who have angioplasty and stents recover from these procedures much faster than patients who have coronary artery bypass surgery,” according to AHA.

On a more personal level, Shawna Dukes is just one of the more than 15 million Americans affected by CAD.For the many others affected by CAD, understanding advances in stent technology can be the first step in becoming an active, knowledgeable advocate for your health. A combination of active research and persistence with doctors helped Shawna to ask the right questions, which ultimately saved her life. After consulting with a number of physicians who could not determine the cause of her extreme fatigue and overall discomfort, she finally found answers from her interventional cardiologist.

“I came to Dr. Barker just after going through many channels and seeing many dr’s and really didn’t get the cause of my symptoms,” Dukes said. “I was absolutely shocked to learn that I had a 90 percent blockage of my major artery, and so he treated me… it really got me back to my life. Back to all the things I was missing and couldn’t do for several months,” Dukes added.

“Stents have come a long way. 40 years ago we didn’t even have stents, we were putting balloons in the arterires and hoping they would stay open,” Dr. Barker added. So now is the best time in history to really enjoy and live your life if you need a heart stent. So much progress has been made to increase and help people to enjoy their life to the fullest.

Feature Image: Mugenal

Vannessa Jackson
Vannessa is a contributing writer for Quirky Daily. She is a lover of all things entertainment, especially anything comedic. She has dreams of becoming Mindy Kaling, but until then, she's enjoying pursuing her dreams in the beautiful city of angels. You can follow her on twitter NNessleigh or check out her other articles on