Carolinas HealthCare System
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Understanding the Basics About Heart Stents - Archived
Purposeful Innovation

Carolinas HealthCare System’s Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute recently became the first in the world to implant a branched stent graft specifically designed for treating thoracic aortic aneurysms.

Learn more about this innovative procedure.

On Tuesday, August 6, former President George W. Bush underwent a heart surgery after doctors discovered at artery blockage during his yearly physical. Bush had a stent implanted in his artery, and is experiencing a complete recovery without complications.

Stenting is one of the most common and minimally invasive ways to treat blocked arteries. Here’s what you need to know about stents. Tomorrow: Learn how they are used.

What is it and when is it used?

A stent is a tiny, mesh tube that is inserted into narrow or weak arteries, which serve the vital function of carrying blood away from the heart to other parts of the body. Stents also help prevent arteries from become blocked again, a process known as restenosis; without the use of stents, about 30 percent of arteries will become blocked in the future.

Different Types of Stents

Bare-metal stents are metal stents with no special coating that prop open blood vessels after they are widened. These stents have a higher rate of restenosis, and are good options for patients that need non-heart related surgery soon after stent placement.

Drug-eluting stents are coated with medication that is slowly released to help prevent the growth of scar tissue in the artery lining. This helps ensure good blood flow through the artery. These stents have a lower rate of restenosis than bare-metal stents.

When is one used?

  • Stents are used in patients with arteries that have become narrow or blocked, resulting in heart conditions including coronary heart disease and peripheral heart disease.
  • They are also used to treat aneurysms, which occur when arteries become abnormal wide due to weaknesses in the blood vessel walls.

Tomorrow: Learn how a stent is used.