What Causes Someone to Need a Heart Stent?


People with coronary heart disease, carotid artery disease or an aortal aneurysm often need stents as part of their treatment. The stent supports the blood vessels affected by the condition, permitting the free flow of blood and preventing heart disorders and stroke, notes the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

In coronary heart disease and carotid artery disease, plaque builds up inside the coronary or carotid arteries, respectively. The coronary arteries give oxygen-rich blood to the heart, while the carotid arteries perform the same function for the brain. Plaque narrows the arteries, cutting down on the flow of blood and making clot formation likely. Clots in the coronary arteries cause heart attacks, while clots in the carotid arteries lead to stroke, as stated by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

Angioplasty is a procedure that inflates a small balloon inside the affected arteries to push plaque against the wall. Afterward, the doctor sets a stent in the area to support the arterial wall and reduce the likelihood of future blockage. Between 80 and 90 percent of patients do not develop blockage again during the first year after angioplasty when a stent is in place. In the case of the aorta, angioplasty does not take place, but the stent strengthens the lining of the aorta so that the aneurysm does not burst, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.