Ever wondered how many heart stents can a person have? A stent is a tube made of metal mesh, that is inserted into an artery to help keep it open. Heart stents are placed during an angioplasty, and then left in place.
There are two kinds of stents. Bare metal stents are the traditional kind, and solely made of metal. With these, there is a chance the artery can become blocked with scar tissue during the healing process. The other kind of stent, the drug-eluting stent, is coated with drugs that are slowly released, and may reduce the occurance of re-blockage (termed restenosis).
The heart has three main arteries, which in turn branch into three more, and the many venis which run to all parts of the body. Each of these arteries can have stents placed all the way through them. When restenosis happens, another stent may be placed inside the first one. With the combination of several long arteries, that may be stented along their entire lengths, and the possiblility of putting stents within stents, the amount a person can have is virtually limitless.
Having a lot of stents, however, is never be a good thing. It may mean your blood thinning medication is not working properly. It is important to take your medication as directed by your cardiologist, and keep all recommended follow up visits. It is also important to make the lifestyle changes your doctor recommends. While restenosis is caused by scar tissue and therefore not related to cholesterol levels, it is more common in smokers. In patients with multiple blocked arteries, it may be better to perform a bypass surgery. It is more invasive than an angioplasty with a stent, but the long term prognosis is much better.