A stent is used to open arteries so that blockages will not occur as a result of conditions such as atherosclerosis. Stents are tiny metal coils that may be coated with medication, that also helps keep arteries open. Stents are placed in the heart through a heart catheterisation procedure.
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Blood clots are a possible complication associated with stents and continue to be a risk for several months after the procedure. Clots can lead to a heart attack, though precautions such as taking aspirin or Plavix can help prevent clot formation.
Sometimes hemorrhaging may occur from the veins that were used for catheter insertion. In severe cases, blood transfusions may be needed because of excessive blood loss.
Other complications that can occur during a stent procedure include artery damage, stroke, heart attack, arrhythmia and kidney problems as a result of reactions to the dye used during the procedure.
A stent procedure usually requires a one-day hospital stay, and patients can usually return to work about a week later.
According to the Mayo Clinic, stents may not always be the best option. Those patients who have weak heart muscles or a narrowed artery on the left side of the heart may need bypass surgery.
Contact a doctor if any of the following occurs following a stent procedure: bleeding or severe pain from the catheter site, fever, weakness, chest pain, breathing difficulties or if the leg used for the catheter feels as if it is a cooler temperature than the other leg.
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