Welcome to the wild world of balloon stenting. It’s a subject that most people know little about unless they or someone they know has undergone it. Balloon stenting is a relatively common and straightforward procedure that can change patients’ lives for the better in a couple of hours or less. If you want to learn more about the procedure, you must be prepared to ask your cardiologist a few important questions.
First, What is Balloon Stenting?
Before we move forward you must understand what the procedure entails so you’re prepared to ask the appropriate questions. When you go in for your annual lab work, the doctor includes a test to determine your cholesterol levels. Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in your blood and it’s not inherently bad. Your body needs some cholesterol to build cells and manufacture hormones and vitamins. But when your blood has too much cholesterol, often as a result of poor diet or lifestyle choices, it begins to collect on the inside of your arterial walls. As blood flows, more and more cholesterol collects inside the arteries and the blood pathway begins to narrow. The narrower the pathway, the harder your heart has to work to pump blood through the body. Left unchecked, this condition, known as atherosclerosis, can cause significant damage to your heart. When arteries are completely blocked a heart attack occurs.
Here’s the good news, balloon stenting is a procedure that reverses the plaque build-up in your arteries. It’s a simple, minimally invasive procedure during which a catheter is inserted into an artery (generally in the groin area) and guided through your body until it gets to the point of the clog. Once the catheter is in position, a balloon is inflated that presses the plaque back against the walls of the artery to allow more space for blood to flow. Finally, a mesh stent is inserted to hold the plaque in place up against the artery walls.
Why Do I Need It?
As mentioned above, atherosclerosis is often caused by poor diet, but that isn’t the only cause. It can also occur in patients who have diabetes, high blood pressure, have a history of tobacco use, or have inflammation as a result of some other condition. Understanding what led to your particular case is the best way that you can prevent it from recurring in another artery. As the saying goes, when you know better, you do better. Ask your doctor to help you get to the bottom of your clogged artery problem by helping you understand what might have led to the issue, to begin with.
How Do I Prepare For My Procedure?
Since this is a minimally invasive procedure during which many patients remain awake, there is usually little preparation needed. Your cardiologist will inform you in detail about any fasting that you need to do, as well as when and how to take your regular medications. Often patients are held overnight at the hospital to ensure the incision in the artery heals completely. For this reason, it’s a good idea to pack an overnight bag and make arrangements for someone to drive you to and from your balloon stenting.
What Is The Recovery Like?
Recovery from a balloon stenting procedure is usually fairly straightforward. Once you’ve been released to return home, you’ll be asked to rest for a few days, after which many patients can return to work. For the first week, many people can do light activities, but it is not recommended that you do any strenuous exercise for up to a month after your procedure. But don’t take this article as the final word on your recovery from your balloon stenting. We can’t stress enough that everyone is different, all of our patients recover at their own pace based upon their overall health and any other extenuating circumstances. Only your cardiologist can give you a good idea of what you can expect from your stent recovery.
Will My Lifestyle Change?
No one knows better than you what kind of diet and lifestyle changes you need to make to protect yourself from recurring atherosclerosis. If you use tobacco products, eat a poor diet, don’t exercise enough, or any of the other risk factors for clogged arteries, your doctor can help direct you toward heart-healthy alternatives. Hopefully, this procedure is a wake-up call and a reminder of how much our choices impact our overall well-being. Be candid with your cardiologist about the areas you need support and they can direct you toward valuable resources that may improve your life.
Balloon stenting is a great tool to help you return to heart health after a bout with atherosclerosis. The only better tool you have in your toolbox is an open and honest relationship with your cardiologist. These questions listed above only scratch the surface of the types of questions you could be asking. Remember, there are no silly questions, and your doctor is glad to help you understand your health better so you can work together to improve it. If you have more questions about balloon stenting or would like to join our practice contact our office today.