Our heart is a complex organ with the hardest working muscle. Every heartbeat pumps out 2 to 3 ounces of blood. This function is mainly carried out by coronary arteries.

The primary function of Coronary arteries is to supply oxygen-rich blood to your heart muscle to keep it pumping. There are four main coronary arteries

  • The right coronary artery.
  • The left coronary artery.
  • The left anterior descending artery.
  • The left circumflex artery.

A blockage of the artery can lead to symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, and damage of the heart muscle. This can lead to Coronary artery disease. When the arteries that supply blood to the heart become narrowed or blocked, due to the build-up of fatty deposits or plaque, it increases the chances of a fatal heart attack.

Some major symptoms of coronary artery disease are chest pain, shortness of breath, Difficulty in breathing after normal light physical activity like walking,  climbing stairs. Symptoms of a heart attack can manifest as chest discomfort or angina, i.e heaviness, pressure or burning in the left shoulder, neck, back, or jaw, tiredness, dizziness, nausea, weakness, lightheadedness, and more. Women can experience slightly different symptoms of a heart attack. For example, for women, discomfort or pain can be felt in the shoulders, neck, abdomen, and back and/or cold sweats.

Coronary artery disease is caused due to many different factors. Some of the most common ones include:

  • Having a high cholesterol level
  • Suffering from high blood pressure
  • Family history of heart disease
  • Existing comorbidities like Diabetes
  • Smoking, Obesity and Sedentary Lifestyle

What are Coronary stents?

Coronary stents are used to treat blockages in the coronary arteries and open them up, relieving the blockage and restoring normal blood supply. A small metal mesh is inserted into the artery that is blocked to widen the vessel and restore the blood flow.

The recovery period for angioplasty and stent implantation is as fast as 24 hours. While there might be some bruising, it will disappear within a few days.

Some problems associated with traditional or non-dissolvable stents

Although traditional heart stent procedures are a breakthrough and very often have a high success rate, they are not entirely without problems.

  • Heart stents are metallic, which means that the patients will be required to take life-long blood-thinning medication, as the presence of heart stents can disrupt the process known as remodeling.
  • Some patients might suffer from an allergic reaction to the medications or the dyes used in the procedure or even the material of the stent.
  • Vessels expand and constrict in response to stimuli which is prevented by metallic heart stents.

The difference between traditional and dissolvable heart stents

Normally stents are made of metal. However, dissolving stents are made of polylactide. It is similar to the natural material that is used in dissolving stitches. Generally, stents are no longer needed once the blood flow is normalized and restored.

The stent dissolves in three stages before it disappears. Revascularization, restoration, and reabsorption.  Revascularization is when the stent implantation takes place thereby restoring blood flow in the vessel. The second phase is when the stent begins to degrade while the vessel regains its natural properties and the final phase, the reabsorption phase is when the stent completely dissolves leaving a natural vessel behind.

The procedure for both heart stents is similar. Just like traditional heart stents, dissolving heart stents are placed into the artery using a catheter with a balloon on the end. Once expanded into place by inflating the balloon, the stent is pushed against the artery wall, after which the catheter and the balloon are then removed. Both traditional as well as dissolving stents contain medication that slowly releases into the body to treat the diseased area.

According to an article published by Health Matters, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration after a study of 2,008 patients over a year found that it was comparably safe to traditional metal stents.

The benefits of dissolvable stents

  • A vessel needs to expand and contract to increase the flow of blood to and from the heart. By using a dissolvable stent, the flow can remain unrestricted because once it is put in, the stent, as the name suggests, dissolves.
  • It allows for more flexibility for treatment and future diagnostic options
  • It may reduce the long-term need for anti-clotting medication

If you’re suffering from a condition that requires you to undergo stent implantation, it is important to discuss all your options with your doctor to be better prepared and make an informed decision about the medical procedure.  . It is also important to understand the nature of the stents, the materials, and only after a proper evaluation,  one should move forward with the procedure.

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