I’m guessing by now you’ve heard the word stent, as in “she had a stent put in.” And you may have an idea of what the means, but did you know there were balloons involved?
The process is actually part of the larger procedure called the angioplasty, which is one of the ways that cardiologists use to treat heart disease. During an angioplasty, your surgeon threads a wire through an artery in an extremity to widen an artery in your heart.

Before your balloon stenting procedure, you should discuss with your physician any other medical conditions you have and medications you are prescribed. The day of you’ll be asked to fast from food and drink 12 hours before the procedure, patients with diabetes should speak with their doctor about how to manage their sugar while fasting. Before the procedure begins you’ll likely undergo a battery of tests including chest x-ray, blood testing, and an electrocardiogram.

Once you are sufficiently prepared for the procedure the cardiologist will inject a topical anesthetic in the skin to numb it. You have expected that the surgeon would need to put you under general anesthesia to perform a balloon stenting, but you will actually remain awake the entire time. When the surgeon as determined which artery will be used for the procedure a small incision is made and the catheter is inserted into the artery. Frequently the artery most used for this surgery is located in the groin, through arteries in the arms are also an option.

At this point, the catheter is threaded through the arteries into your heart where a camera at its tip captures a video so the surgeon can get a clear view. When the catheter is in place at the site of the blockage it pushes a deflated balloon into the center of the blockage and then inflates the balloon pressing the plaque against the side of the artery wall making more space for blood to travel through. During this point of the procedure, a mesh stent is also placed to hold the plaque into place.

This entire procedure can take from one and a half to two and a half hours and most likely you’ll be kept overnight in the hospital for observation. But after the whole this is over you’re only left with a small incision mark which will heal in no time.

In the days and weeks after the procedure, you’ll be asked to take it easy, avoid too much physical activity, and drink plenty of water. The prognosis for patients who undergo balloon stenting is good. Seventy percent have no further problems, though some do need to return for further treatments.

This procedure is a great opportunity to start anew in your journey toward heart health. If you’ve had a balloon stenting or plan to have one soon consider making changes to your lifestyle and diet to ensure you and your stent enjoy and a long and healthy life together. If you are not currently in the care of a cardiologist but would like to be, give us a call today and we’ll introduce you to a member of our team.