When new patients come into our office to undergo cardiovascular tests or surgical procedures, they often have some concept of what the procedure entails. The internet is packed full of valuable information to help people do their research about the experiences they’ll soon undergo. However, even the most informed patients often have questions about the events proceeding and right after the surgery. In this article, we will go into some detail about what you can expect before and after your balloon stenting procedure.
To not leave anyone behind, let’s take a moment to review what balloon stenting is and how it can help you. A stent is a tiny mesh tube that is surgically placed in a vein or artery to hold back the arterial plaque it has built up over time; a condition called atherosclerosis. Plaque is a sticky substance made up of cholesterol, cellular waste, and other materials in your blood. Over the years, as blood passes through your veins, plaque tends to build up upon itself, causing the vessel to narrow until blood is no longer able to pass freely. The tighter the opening in your vein, the harder your heart has to work to move oxygenated blood through your body. This plaque buildup can lead to many cardiac conditions, from high blood pressure to a heart attack.
During the procedure, the surgeon makes an incision in the groin or underarm of a patient and inserts a catheter into the nearest artery. The catheter is then fed through the patient’s arteries until it makes its way to the blockage. At the end of a catheter, a balloon is inflated in the area of the blockage to gently press the plaque up against the artery’s walls and open it for blood to pass once again freely. While this procedure is beneficial, it’s not enough for the long term. That is why a mesh stent is placed to hold the plaque back and ensure that it doesn’t continue to impede blood flow.
Those are the basic details of a balloon stunting procedure and may vary from person to person depending upon the severity of the condition. Now let’s dive into the points you’ve been wondering about. Here are some things you can expect to experience before and after your procedure.
Before Your Balloon Stenting Procedure
- We should mention that it’s very typical for a patient who is about to undergo any cardiovascular procedure to feel nervous. If you have specific concerns or questions, you must take the time to ask them so that the doctor can help ease your worries and instill confidence in you.
- Before you undergo any procedure, your doctor will give you strict instructions for preparing that may include adjusting or stopping the intake of certain medications. You must provide your doctor a clear list of what medication you take (including supplements) so that they can advise you properly on the subject. Bring all of your medicines with you to the hospital and take approved medications the morning of your procedure with only a small amount of water. In most cases, patients preparing for a balloon scenting procedure will fast for at least eight hours before the surgery.
- Finally, most balloon stenting procedures require a stay in the hospital, so you must arrange for someone to bring you home the day after your procedure as you will not be able to drive.
After Your Balloon Stenting Procedure
- As we mentioned above, staff will look after you in the hospital after your stent is placed, and the nurses and doctors there will monitor your progress. However, once you arrive home and return to your regular routine is crucial that you watch carefully for bleeding, swelling, or infection of the incision site. Some basic signs of infection include redness, swelling, or a fever.
- Your doctor will give you clear and strict instructions on the types of medications to take and when to take them after you undergo a balloon stunting procedure. You must follow these instructions to ensure that you don’t experience a condition called restenosis, which refers to the re-narrowing of an artery within six months of the procedure.
- You can think of the balloon stenting procedure as a second chance. And it’s wise to make the most of that opportunity. To maintain a healthy heart, you should begin by maintaining a healthy weight, eating a low cholesterol diet, avoiding smoking or alcohol, controlling other conditions such as high blood pressure, and exercising regularly. Your cardiologist can advise you on the specific diet and exercise appropriate for your condition. But whatever you do, take this as an opportunity to refresh your lifestyle and move forward in a healthier direction.
In our office, educating patients is one of the hallmark things that we do. We are experts in cardiac medicine and in performing procedures like balloon stenting, but only you are in charge of how you choose to live your life before and after a procedure. If you have more questions about what to expect from this or any other surgical procedure you may undergo as a member of our practice. Please contact our office today; we would love to help support you.