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What it's like: How it feels to get a heart stent

A stent will support the inner wall of your heart's blocked artery, while the angioplasty procedure helps restore blood flow through the artery or arteries that were blocked.
by Jaclyn Cosgrove Published: April 28, 2013

/articleid/3804055/1/pictures/2037750">Photo - Dr. Joseph Horstman demonstrates the insertion device for a heart stent that he uses at the Oklahoma Heart Hospital. Photo by Paul Hellstern, The Oklahoman
Dr. Joseph Horstman demonstrates the insertion device for a heart stent that he uses at the Oklahoma Heart Hospital. Photo by Paul Hellstern, The Oklahoman

Does it hurt?

During the surgery, while you're under conscious sedation, you generally are able to tell your doctor if you're experiencing major pain. The place where your doctor inserted the wire will likely be sore after the procedure.

What are risk factors?

One of the most common problems with any surgery is bleeding. In rare circumstances, you can experience serious bleeding or develop a pseudoaneurysm, which occurs when an artery or the heart chamber is injured and causes blood to pool outside the artery's wall.

Some people are allergic the dye used during the procedure, which contains iodine. The amount of dye could affect your kidney function, but this isn't common.

Rare risk factors include a heart attack caused by the procedure, a stroke or the need for additional procedures. You should talk with your doctor about any concerns you have about the procedure.

What's recovery time?

Many people spend the night in the hospital and go home the next day. This isn't always the case. Some people are able to go home the same day, depending on how they're recovering after surgery. If you don't have other health issues, such as diabetes, you might not have to stay the night in the hospital.

If you had a significant blockage, you might start to feel better immediately.

What's the follow-up?

Your doctor will want to check in with you after your surgery and likely see you back a few times.

After the surgery, it is important to quit smoking, lose weight and take medicine your doctor prescribes, including blood pressure medicine and blood thinners. Listening to your doctor about taking your medications and making lifestyle changes is incredibly important after a stent procedure. Taking these actions decreases your risk for developing serious complications or needing another stent procedure.

Source: Joseph Horstman, an interventional cardiologist at the Oklahoma Heart Hospital; National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute; Cleveland Clinic; The Mayo Clinic

by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, public policy and medicine in Oklahoma, among other topics. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate. Jaclyn grew up in the southeast region of the state and enjoys writing about rural Oklahoma. She is...
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