What is a coronary artery stent?

A stent is a small stainless steel tube mounted on a balloon catheter. It is introduced into your coronary artery after balloon angioplasty and is positioned at the site of the obstruction.

The balloon is inflated and the stent expands - pressing against the inner walls of the artery. The balloon is then deflated and the stent remains in place.

A stent is a permanent implant that helps keep the artery open, improves the blood flow and relieves the symptoms of coronary artery disease.

When to notify your doctor

Be sure to let your doctor know if you:

  • cannot take aspirin
  • are taking other medication
  • are allergic to any drugs
  • have a history of bleeding problems.

What happens after the procedure

  • You will be moved to the medical ICU, where you will be monitored closely.
  • The sheath will be removed approximately three to four hours after the procedure. A sandbag will then be placed on the puncture site to apply pressure for approximately two hours.
  • The nursing sisters will monitor your heart rhythm, blood pressure, and a series of ECGs will be done.
  • Be sure to report any occurrence of chest pains.
  • You will be allowed to eat and drink one hour after your return from the catheterisation laboratory.
  • You should drink all fluids that are offered to you so that the contrast dye used during the procedure can be flushed through your kidneys.
  • You must lie flat until the sheath has been removed, and you will not be allowed to bend the leg that was used.
  • You will be required to take medication that will help keep the blood flowing smoothly through your stent.
  • You will be discharged approximately 24 hours after the implantation of the stent.
  • If you experience any chest discomfort or pain, or bleeding from your groin, you should contact your doctor.
  • Your doctor may ask you to visit him after four to six weeks for a follow-up stress test.
  • You should alert any other doctor treating you to the fact that you have a coronary stent implant.
  • You may be asked to take one or more of the following medications for at least one month after discharge:
  • Aspirin (an antiplatelet which helps thin the blood to prevent blood clots)
  • Warfarin (a blood thinner to prevent clots)
  • Ticlid (a blood thinner).

It is extremely important to follow your medication regimen. Long-term medication may include Disprin and cholesterol lowering drugs.

Follow these instructions:

  • Avoid having any dental work done while you are taking blood thinning medication.
  • Consult your cardiologist before surgery, even before emergency surgery if possible.
  • Follow your medication regimen religiously.
  • Do not stop taking prescribed medication unless instructed to do so by your cardiologist.
  • Notify your cardiologist immediately if you experience any side effects, for example headaches, nausea, vomiting or a rash.
  • Keep all follow-up appointments, including laboratory tests.
  • Do not have an MRI scan within eight weeks of your stent implantation without the permission of your cardiologist.
  • Do not use antacids routinely, unless prescribed by your cardiologist. Antacids decrease the absorption of aspirin and some other medications.