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What is a Heart Stent?: August 27, 2011

Life served Bob Graham an unexpected twist.

“I was working out at the Y then all of sudden I just went over, and that’s the last I remember ‘til I woke up about two weeks later.”

Turns out he had a massive heart attack.

“I didn’t know that he had a stent put in until after it was over, everything was kind of rush-rush,” says Sue, Bob’s wife.

As part of his life-saving procedure, surgeons inserted a stent in his heart.

“Typical stent sizes range from 2 to 4 millimeters so they’re quite small,” says Dr. Robert Grohowski, an interventional cardiologist with Lee Memorial Health System.

A stent is a wire mesh tube that expands to hold the blocked artery open.

 “It looks similar to a spring of a pen and it keeps the artery propped open where we dilate the blockage,” says Dr. Grohowski.

Bob’s case called for extreme measures; he also had a pacemaker implanted. Stents are commonly used as a prevention against heart attacks.

“When stents are placed we’re typically treating people who are having symptoms that are coming from their blockages things like chest pain, tiredness, shortness of breath,” says Dr. Grohowski.

Stents are often inserted along with an angioplasty, which is like a balloon that opens the artery. Because of its woven design, cells will grow around and through the stent which helps keep it in place.

“When we use a stent we hope that its going to last forever so there’s not a certain amount of time that stent is useful for, we never remove them once they’ve been placed, they’re in forever,” says Dr. Grohowski.

It’s been almost 10 years since his stent was placed and Bob is still staying fit and enjoying life.

“Oh yes, he’s just, he’s very healthy, he can do anything he wants to,” says Sue.