What is a Heart Stent

A stent can be defined as a cylindrical shaped rod. These tiny devices can be invaluable in assisting doctors with patients who have a blocked cardiovascular artery. In most cases, cardiologists will examine the patient and determine whether bypass surgery is necessary. Because this procedure involves taking a blood vessel from somewhere else in the body and using it to bypass the blockage in the original artery, complications often arise. For this reason, cardiologists will often opt to use heart stents made out of a special wire-mesh material.

In order to unclog blocked arteries, doctors will insert a catheter, or tube, into the artery and inflate a small balloon which pushes out any matter that prevents the proper flow of blood. The stent is then placed directly into the blood vessel to hold it open. As the tissue around the artery heals, new cells reproduce and incorporate the stent into the blood vessel.

Although this procedure may seem simple and relatively effective in theory, the body continues to view stents as foreign matter. As a result, scar tissue will often form around the stent, particularly older metal based models, causing another blockage, or worse, blood clots which can lead to heart attack or death.

New medical technological advances have allowed drug-coated stents to be produced. The drugs work against the scar tissue, preventing future blockages. Unfortunately, however, these drugs also slow the healing process. The risk of blood clots is considerably high and in some cases will lead to heart attack and death.

Fortunately, the FDA has seen the benefit of these drug coated stents and has since called for more formal evaluation of these devices. In any case, scientists and researchers continue to brainstorm to develop strategies that might work more effectively. One proposed idea was to create a stetnt that dissolved entirely once healing was complete, thereby eliminating the need for drugs, and reducing the risk of future complications.