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5 Non-Surgical Interventional Procedures for Treating Coronary Blockages

Drug-Eluting Stents

As the name implies, these stents contain a medicine that is released at the site where the stent is placed. These particular stents have a thin surface of medication that helps to reduce the risk of restenosis, which is when a blood vessel narrows after it has been opened. This medication helps to prevent the overgrowth of tissue that can occur within the stent.

If your doctor recommends this particular stent, you will likely receive certain prescription medications that you will have to take for several months after your procedure to prevent the risk of clotting. Some concerns were raised in 2006 regarding the risk of blood clots forming with these stents, which can lead to a heart attack. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has stated that DES are safe and effective when used appropriately. If you have a DES, make sure to take your medications as prescribed until your doctor tells you to stop.

Rotablation (PTRA)

This procedure uses a catheter that has an acorn-shaped, diamond-coated tip. It is inserted up to the place where the blockage is located, and then the tip spins around at a high speed, grinding away at the plaque on the walls of the artery (think of something similar to a dentist's drill). This process can be repeated as necessary to remove blockage and improve blood flow.

But what happens to all those chopped-up pieces of cholesterol and fatty deposits (plaque) inside the artery? The rotablation causes these to become microscopic particles that are washed away in the bloodstream and filtered out by the liver and spleen.

Cutting Balloon

As you might expect with this procedure, a cutting balloon includes a balloon tip that has small blades. Once the balloon is inserted into the right place in the artery, the blades are activated. They score the plaque, and then the balloon pushes the fatty deposits into the walls of the artery. A doctor may recommend this type of procedure if a person has already had a stent put in place, but the arteries have become narrow again (restenosis) or if they have other types of blockages.

Life After a Stent: 5 Realistic Ways to Take Charge of Your Health

Coronary Stent Information

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