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Coated Heart Stents: September 15, 2011

“We have miles of actual walking paths and typically I use those.”

Mary Kay Belin exercises, eats well and was prepared for just about anything, except heart disease, which she never saw coming. At first she ignored the chest pains.

“But because it happened every time I went out for my walk and got to a certain point during the exertion, I just knew that it was more than something I could explain away to myself,” says Mary Kay.

Lee Memorial Health System cardiologist Robert Grohowski found the problem: Mary Kay had a severely blocked artery.

“In fact his words were, a significant portion of my heart was not getting oxygen rich blood which was causing the pressure in my chest,” says Mary Kay.

The decision was made to insert a stent.

“A stent is a wire mesh tube that we use to open a blockage in an artery, it looks similar to a spring of a pen and it keeps the artery propped open,” says Dr. Grohowski.

The stent was inserted through a catheter in her groin. An angioplasty balloon inflates first, pushing the plaque aside. The expanded stent is left behind.

Stents were traditionally made out of metal and were a big advancement over angioplasty alone. But a number of people developed blockages at the stent site because of scar tissue.

“So our newer generation of stents are called drug coated or drug alluding stents and they’re coated with a material and a medication that keeps the body from forming excess scar tissue,” says Dr. Grohowski.

The coated stent effectively reduces the risk of a future blockage.

“With these types of stents our risk of blockage coming back is now down to about 5%,” says Dr. Grohowski.

Now post-surgery and Mary Kay is picking up her pace again.
“I’ve been on the golf course for the last two months I mean it didn’t take long to be able to get out there and do all those things that I love to do.”

The only thing missing are her chest pains.

“With a stent the hope is that those symptoms are gonna resolve so we would hope that quality of live is gonna improve significantly after we place the stents,” says Dr. Grohowski.