What is a coronary artery stent?
A stent is a plastic or metal tube or mesh that is placed in a blocked artery to open up this blood vessel allowing blood to once again flow freely through the affected heart artery.
Stenting is the process of placing a stent in the right area by threading a guidewire through a large artery in the groin to the heart. Intuitively this all sounds amazing right? However, this way of thinking is highly simplistic in that we have a blocked arterial area due to long-term plaque build-up and we then we send in the troops either an interventional Cardiologist or Radiologist who performs this highly skilled work, that more often than not, is successful but not without risk.
Once the stenting is performed both the medical professional and the patient breathe a sigh of relief that the job is done. Somehow, this one tiny area that has been opened will make up for the remainder of all the large and small blood vessels in the heart that are also suffering from advanced disease of the endothelial lining thus affecting the complete heart vascular bed!
Once a stent has been inserted is all OK?
Outcomes are not changed after stenting. Without aggressive medical and dietarty management, including lifestyle changes and exercise, you won’t change your outcome simply based on a stent being inserted into a blocked area. This stent will not make up for the immense risk the Western diet offers to all the blood vessels of the heart. This is just fantasy!
We need to consider now the rest of the coronary artery stented
You now have a stent in place and blood flows through this little device. In acute coronary events like unstable angina or a heart attack, this may be of great benefit and it has bought you some time to now consider all the factors that got you here in the first place.
If we now look at the coronary artery above and below the stent, what we will find is dangerous soft plaque that can rupture and block the artery.
Soft plaque rupture, heart attacks and strokes
The dangerous plaque is the soft plaque that is susceptible to shear forces and systemic inflammation causing a rupture and clot that then completely obstructs the blood vessel blocking blood and oxygen supply to the territory in the heart or brain that was supplied by that particular artery.
If a clot occurred above the stented area, you are in trouble.
If a clot occurred below the stent, once again you are in trouble
You will need to be aggressively treated with medications like statins that lower your cholesterol and improve your lipid profile and take blood thinners to prevent a clot while you are getting your act together in terms of diet and exercise.
So much can be done in terms of dietary management. The vast majority with blocked blood vessels will have inflammation working against them. This can be offset by assessing your Omega-6 to Omega-3 (N6/N3) ratio and then managing the diet through whole foods rich in omega-3’s and supplementation to achieve a healthy balance.
A diet rich in flavonoids and nitrates will ensure as much as possible, an optimal level of Nitric Oxide (NO) that helps arteries dilate and become less stiff and a rich intake of phytochemicals will help with oxidative stress and tissue repair.
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