Stents – good or bad?

I finally got to know an outcome of my next stage of recovery…and made a mistake of doing a bit of research on the web.

I have a totally blocked artery. Fortunately my heart has compensated and grown another artery path near to the damaged area so blood is being supplied. This puts me in a mid way position between a routine stent operation and bypass. It seems it’s going to be a complicated stent procedure, but I’m told being performed by a very good specialist.

So I have a look on the web and the first thing I see is an advert right at the top “Stents are very dangerous” It goes on to sell some wonder medicine that thins out the damaging plaque to unblock the arteries and make you all as new. If I was a blocked sink I guess it’s the difference between calling in a plumber for either rod plunging which normally works well, or a more complex repiping, or just buying some drain block acid.

I start to look at medical sites and many talk about the ease in which stents can be put in…one referred to surgeons doing stents in the same ease they change tyres. But do doctors actually change tires? 😉

The odds
There’s a risk with a stent that the body may not like it and react, or that the stent cannot be manoeuvred into place correctly and cause complications, or that you have a stroke. The odds of dying in hospital are, according to a British Heart Foundation leaflet, about 200 to 1.

There’s some recent research that suggest if you don’t have the stent at the same time as you experience the heart attack there’s not a great benefit from having one fitted later to prevent further attack. Their research indicates that you have as much chance of survival taking the medication that’s prescribed.

So I’m now in a dilemma. Do I have a stent or do I take my chances? I am currently getting chest discomfort when I exercise, but it’s not unbearable. Do the plaque dissolving methods work or is this just another age reducing/baldness curing un-wonderdrug?

I will be seeing the specialist for a pre-stent assessment. I have a few questions. I’ll add my findings here.

If anyone’s been through any of this already please feel free to send me a comment it will make for useful reading for anyone who ends up in the same position in the future.

5 thoughts on “Stents – good or bad?

  1. Howdy Pete,

    I know your a smart man and you probably already know this. But I would say just be careful and don’t believe everything you read on the internet.

    I can’t really compare to your situation, but when my wife had an ear infection I did research on the web and you get all sorts of things popping up saying its this or that and that you can fix it by doing this or by purchasing that…In the end, we took the doctors advice. After all, you don’t know who wrote what on the internet these days.

    Get well!


  2. Hi Pete,

    Such a difficult decision! The fact that you still feel some discomfort when you exercise is a concern for sure. I have scared myself at times when doing research on the internet; what is that saying? A little knowledge is a dangerous thing!
    I guess the best thing to do is get as much knowledge as you can, and then go with what feels right to you, just to point out the obvious. 😉
    I hope for the best for you. At some point your life will feel back to normal again. You’re being challenged right now…but I am confident you will come out the winner.

    Take care my friend,

    Lisa (LisaRose)

  3. Peter,

    Having nothing to do with medical faculty – I must not recommend whether or not to go for stenting. However, there are few experience that I must share that say clearly that doctors are like salesmen of pharma companies. It is too hard to decide or predict whether a doctor is governed by professional goodwill or greed in his opinion particularly for matters like stenting.

    Stents are products that are expensive. They carry huge commissions and cuts to people who have to sell them. Obviously we act on recommendations of doctors. So it is hard to presume that all doctors are guided by honesty and ethics particularly after costly education and huge commercial model they function on. I have seen doctors perform Angioplasty in arteries with 50-60 per cent blocks. In fact they are so conditioned that sometimes – they do not see people as patients but they look at patients as subjects of their monetary gains.

    However, it is not right to generalize that “all” doctors are rogues (but many are – Oh! did I say “Most”). Yet, God is kind enough that he has created good people in all fields. You have to find them.

    I am sure that you will get somebody good to guide you at times of your need. Doctors must learn not to see how fat is the wallet of patient – but also see that a patitent is somebody’s husband, wife, father, mother, son or daughter. If the doctors will learn to see such human values – probably we will feel safer as patients.

  4. I will have to agree with Peter. From what I have read the old stents are just as good and maybe better for most, than the new “medicated” ones. The new ones have not been on the market for a long enough period of time and I have read of lots of allergic reactions to them???? Look into chelation done by some doctors.I have heard good things about that.

  5. I do not know if it is still of relevance to Peter , but mine is a recent case , I am 61 , resident of Delhi ( india ), diagnosed by my Cardiologist for blockage at three locations in the Right Coronary Artery through Angiography , 70 % , 70-80 %, 90 % .
    But in Thalium stress test I did well , the area fed by RCA showed blood supply through co laterals .So the Doctor has not used stents or Angioplasty , have suggested me to try medication, weight reduction ( I am 95 kg with 5ft 8 inches height ) and lowering of bad cholestorol to 70-80 ( I have 109 now .) They will review after 2 months.

    Statistically I am told stents do not score more than medication. They are only better in relieving symptoms .My son is also a young Medical Graduate and he was present during the counceling.Anyone having similar experience may please advise.

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