A small mesh tube used to treat narrow or weak coronary arteries. People with diabetes are especially prone to atherosclerosis, a condition in which plaque, a waxy substance, builds up inside the arteries. When atherosclerosis affects the coronary arteries — the arteries that supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle — coronary heart disease (CHD) may occur. Symptoms of CHD include chest pain or discomfort, known as angina. The buildup of plaque also makes it more likely that blood clots will develop in the coronary arteries, blocking them and causing a heart attack.
Doctors may treat CHD with coronary angioplasty, in which a thin, flexible tube with a tiny balloon on the end is threaded through a blood vessel to the narrowed or blocked coronary artery. Once placed, the balloon is temporarily inflated to compress the plaque and restore blood flow through the artery.
In some cases, a stent is placed in the artery during the procedure. The stent keeps the artery open and dramatically decreases the likelihood that the artery will become narrowed or blocked again.
Unfortunately, using stents in coronary artery disease doesn’t necessarily translate into better outcomes for most patients. Large studies have found that stents do not prevent heart attacks or death from heart attacks or ease chest pain. Although cardiac stents may still have a role in treating heart disease, including a heart attack in progress, some cardiologists suggest that the clinical guidelines for using stents should be changed.
Want to learn more about keeping your heart healthy with diabetes? Read “Fight Off Heart Disease With These Five Heart-Healthy Foods,” “Seven Strategies to Boost Heart Health,” and “Lifestyle Habits for Lipid Management.“