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Should I Worry About Metal Detectors? Answers To Top Stent-Related Questions

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man holding chest with concerned wife at his side

A stent is a tiny, expandable metal mesh coil that is used in procedures to open coronary arteries blocked by coronary artery disease. It's put into the newly opened area of the artery to help keep the artery from narrowing or closing again.

In this Q and A, UH interventional cardiologist John Coletta, MD, Chair of the Department of Cardiology at UH St. John Medical Center, shares with us questions he frequently hear from patients – and his answers.

Do I have to worry about going through a metal detector or security at an airport or stadium?

No. A stent should not set off any metal detector or security screening. You will receive a wallet card with information about your stent after your procedure. You can keep that with you in the event there is any concern at security checkpoints.

Is it safe to have an MRI, mammogram, CT scan, X-ray or nuclear stress test with stents?

It is completely safe to have routine imaging tests after stents. There are no safety concerns with MRIs, mammograms, CT scans, X-rays or nuclear stress tests.

After a stent will I again experience symptoms of heart disease, like chest pain?

There is always a chance that symptoms can recur after stenting. You have to remember that stenting props the artery open by displacing the blockage outward. It does not remove the blockage. This allows the artery to provide blood to the heart muscle. To reduce recurrence, continuing taking your medications and modify your risk factors by exercising, eating sensibly, getting good sleep and avoiding nicotine.

How will I know if my artery re-narrows?

When an artery re-narrows (or becomes re-stenosed) it will usually produce symptoms that were previously experienced. This is not always the case. This is why continued follow-up with your cardiologist is very important.

What’s the difference between bare metal and drug-eluting stents? Is one better than the other?

All drug-eluting stents have a core that is a bare metal stent. The difference is that the drug-eluting stents is “dipped” or coated in a medication that slowly administers medication to the artery. These types of medications help prevent narrowing within the stent. There are reasons why one type may be chosen over the other but in general, drug-eluting stents are preferred in most circumstances.

How long do stents last? Will it move?

Stents last indefinitely. Once expanded within the artery they are embedded into the wall and will not move. The artery can block again within the stent but the stent itself remains where it was placed.

What is stent thrombosis?

Stent thrombosis is when a clot forms within the stent itself. The time that this can occur tends to be soon after the stent is placed. The use of very specific medications will nearly eliminate the chance of thrombosis. This is why it is very important to continue with medications that are prescribed after a stent procedure for the entire duration that your cardiologist recommends.

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Vascular specialists at UH Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute are highly trained in the diagnosis and treatment of hardening or narrowing of the arteries. Our goal is to help patients living with this condition reduce their risk of a heart attack, stroke or aneurysm and live a higher quality of life. Learn more about vascular care at UH Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute.

 

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