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December 15th, 2010
08:36 AM ET

How long can a stent stay in the body?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. Today, it's Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer at the American Cancer Society.

Question asked by Billy L. Hagler of Tennessee:

How long can a stent stay in the body? What is a sign of a stent closing up in the artery?

Expert answer:

A stent is tubular in shape and usually made of metal or ceramic. It is designed to keep a part of the coronary artery open. Coronary arteries are the blood vessels that carry blood to the heart muscle. Stents are placed through a cardiac angiogram, a procedure in which a catheter is placed in the groin and run up to the heart. An angioplasty, in which the narrowed blockage of the artery is opened with the inflation of a balloon usually, precedes the placing of the stent.

Stents were first used in the early 1980s, and some people with those original stents are still doing just fine nearly 30 years later.

Stents can develop blockages too. In recent years, drug-eluting stents have been used in some patients. Those stents are treated with drugs in an effort to decrease the risk of blockages forming. Patients who have stents are also at risk of getting additional coronary artery blockages. A regimen of aspirin therapy and control of cholesterol and triglycerides through diet, medicine or both does appear to decrease risk.

The signs of a blocked stent are the same as the signs of coronary artery blockage. An indication of such a blockage can be decreased exercise tolerance but is often angina. Angina can be a crushing chest pain, a pain that radiates down the left arm or one that goes up into the jaw. It often involves sweating. Angina can even present as a headache. Initially, angina is usually brought on with exertion and relieved with rest.

Patients who suspect they have angina should see medical personnel as soon as possible. Feeling the above described pain while at rest is described as unstable angina, which is a medical emergency. Those suspected of having it should go to an emergency room immediately.

The assessment of the coronary arteries and previously placed stents involves an exercise stress test. Very often, the venous injection of a nuclear medicine is done to assess oxygenation of the heart muscle during exercise. Those who have an abnormal stress test often get an angiogram. This test involves an X-ray opaque dye injected into the coronary arteries as X-rays are taken. The X-rays can demonstrate partial or complete blockages of the arteries and the stents in them. A blocked stent can usually be removed and replaced with angiography. Occasionally, a chest surgery known as coronary artery bypass grafting, or CABG, or bypass is needed to remove a stent and restore blood flow to the heart muscle.

Ask our expert doctors a question


soundoff (63 Responses)
  1. Buster Bloodvessel

    I got one very suddenly three months ago, and boy was I surprised! Good to know they last well.

    December 15, 2010 at 09:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Jim

    Yeah – June 1st, 2009 for me. Got to the hospital quick and avoided a lot of damage. I am glad to hear they last as well. If it last 30 more years, I'm good.

    December 15, 2010 at 09:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Clogged Artery

    I've even got a stent inside a stent (non-medicated). I have been abkle to ride my mountain bike and exercise regularly. the before and after difference was simply amazing!!

    December 15, 2010 at 09:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. cincicj

    i am surprised there is no mention in this article about the new bio-resorbable stents under development. These stents are deployed to unblock the artery and stay in place until the artial wall is structually sound but then is gradually reabsorbed over time. this is new technology not availble yet but it will be interesting to see what the data shows about recurrance of blockages after reabsorption.

    December 15, 2010 at 10:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. razzlea

    http://razzlea.blogspot.com/

    December 15, 2010 at 10:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Dennis

    I have had three stentz since 1995 and have had no problems...

    December 15, 2010 at 10:56 | Report abuse | Reply
    • carl

      great too hear your having good luck -i had one put in -in may so far so good ----–talk too me

      July 9, 2012 at 10:12 | Report abuse |
  7. dave

    Clearly this is the fault of the liberal/conservative Bush/Obama people with their socialist facism

    December 15, 2010 at 11:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. differences

    Angina is different in men and women. Men tend to get the classical crushing or stabbing chest pain with pain radiating to their jaw or left arm. Women tend to get what is typically mistaken for heartburn or neck pain or a headache. If you have had heart problems in the past and experience any of those symptoms whether you are male or female, seek help. Unfortunately for women, they are most usually not taken seriously and sent home with an aspirin only to arrest or stroke out later at home. If your doctor tells you no to worry your pretty little head about it, tell them to do the tests now and then go to hell.

    December 15, 2010 at 14:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bella

      I totally agree that women experience heart attacks and angina differently then men. I had shortness of breath, head aches, nausea, and a pain in my back. The MD (a woman) thought I was too young to have angina - and I had a heart attack. Women - be vocal and don't ignore the symptoms or allow your doctor to push you off. Know your family history. It is genetic.

      December 15, 2010 at 16:25 | Report abuse |
    • iris y

      In November of 2003 i was feeling tired, nauseous and had pain in my back. My boyfriend askedif i wanted him to take me to the hospital. I said no-call an ambulance. I felt they would send me home with the perverbial aspirin,but coming in by ambulance they would pay attention. They did, and sure enough elevated c-reactive proteins indicated a clogged artery
      And ultimately a stent. Ladies if you feel back pain,nausea and just like"you can't explain how you feel"- pay attention!
      Itcould save your life

      August 16, 2012 at 00:25 | Report abuse |
    • Sarah

      I had jaw pain and was pouring sweat

      July 25, 2015 at 09:26 | Report abuse |
  9. lvedp

    They don't remove stents. They place another stent inside the blocked stent, if possible.

    December 15, 2010 at 14:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Happy

    I had my done through the wrist. Home the same day and back to normal activity in two days.

    December 15, 2010 at 16:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Harold

    I got a stent when i was 34(!) after one of my arteries closed up... excessive straining in gym caused plaque to rupture the doctors believe. That was 14 years ago and feeling great now. i can do 40 mile bike rides at an 19 mph pace... better then when I was in my 20's... worked for me!

    December 15, 2010 at 17:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. elliott.gorelick

    Most studies have shown that stents have zero mortality benefit and questionable qol benefit. They are easy to place relative to reimbursement rates patients like the idea that something is being done. The theory of how they work sounds good.

    December 15, 2010 at 17:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dan

      Disagree. Studies of well-selected patients with chronic stable angina have not shown a mortality benefit, but stenting in the setting of a heart attack has clearly been shown to have a mortality benefit time and time again. It all depends on why one is getting the stent.

      December 15, 2010 at 17:27 | Report abuse |
    • elliott.gorelick

      For those who argue stents are beneficial, that's your right, but the evidence is equivocal at best and non-existent at worse. On the other hand, managing the patient on drug therapy is so difficult and not as renumerative so stent away.

      December 16, 2010 at 13:22 | Report abuse |
  13. potter

    Did I miss something? Did the article actually answer the question in the heading???

    December 15, 2010 at 17:19 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Paul Budak

      I agree with Potter...He never really answered the question. Singale example of stent longivity are meaningless...what have longitudinal studies shown? And are medically enhanced stents better than regular stents? The CREST study results help to shed some light on the question. I suggest that the good doctor read it. Or at least the summary as published by the Mayo Clinic.

      December 16, 2010 at 00:19 | Report abuse |
  14. Joseph Wiedermann MD, FACC, FSCAI

    The physician asked to answer the question is clearly not a cardiologist and makes several errors of fact. To begin with, a "blocked stent" is never removed. The stent is a meshwork of stainless steel, chromium-cobalt, platinum-cobalt, or more recently a bioabsorbable polymer. It is never "ceramic." It is embedded in the target vessel at very high pressures and is soon covered over by the body's own cells. "Removing" it would entail an open surgical procedure as well as shredding of the vessel–this is never done. Blockage of a stent occurs when scar tissue or new plaque develops in the vessel wall and grows through the meshwork of the stent to fill the vessel lumen. Patency of the lumen can be re-established by reopening with a balloon, a cutting device such an atherectomy, or more commonly by re-stenting within the previous stent. With current drug-eluting stents, the chance of developing re-narrowing within the stent is less than 10%. The metal-based stents will last for the life of the patient (we now have patency data out to 35 years). As to issues of benefit, stents have been shown to decrease mortality in heart attacks and in unstable angina. In cases of stable angina, they markedly improve symptoms without affecting mortality. As another minor correction of this flawed piece, the first stent was placed in 1977 by Dr. Andreas Gruentzig.
    I would suggest to CNN that they ask physicians who actually know something about the topic to answer these questions rather than adding to the general public confusion.

    December 15, 2010 at 18:42 | Report abuse | Reply
    • mmi16

      Why ask someone that know something....a correct article would take all the fun out of amatures correcting it.

      December 16, 2010 at 05:38 | Report abuse |
  15. Cio white

    stents are not only used in the coronary arteries, they can be used in any vessel, such as peripheral and/or neuro. In-stent restenosis can be a complication from incomplete stent apposition which can be checked with different tools such as intavascular ultrasound.

    December 15, 2010 at 19:01 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Susan

      I had to have several stents places in my ileo-femoral vein back in '98, D/T severe postpartum blood clotting. (I have Factor V Leiden disorder, which increases blood clotting.) I was on heparin prophylactically, but clotted anyway. The clots were dissolved with Urokinase, reformed the next day, then I had a venoplasty followed by the stents. I am 12+ years out and no signs or symptoms of re-occlusion.

      December 15, 2010 at 23:30 | Report abuse |
  16. ipatient

    Well. The man asked you point blank: "How long can a stent stay in the body"sir! Are you a lawyer or a healer? They probably told him (if the attending physician was a good doctor) all the background stuff you just said. Hopefully before they opened up the man and put the thing in his chest. A question like the one asked is most likely from a person who either has had this procedure done on them or one who is in a situation where they may contemplate or have a choice to have it in the future. And his question is an important one and a basic one and is a question I think most people would say deserves a clear direct answer. Which you provide neither. Interesting. And you do go on and on though, huh? Almost sounds like you are selling or qualifying the procedure(/patient?). Wow. So how is he supposed to find out doc, if he can't ask you and apparently the information from his other sources is not forthcoming? He's kinda helpless, sorta, huh? And not in any position to take responsibility for his health decisions. Makes him kinda vulnerable or prone to being influenced by sources that may not necessarily have his best health interests at heart, huh Doc?

    December 15, 2010 at 19:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. cathlabrn

    Why would you consider a Doctor for the Cancer Society an expert? We started putting stents in coronary arteries with FDA approval in 1993. The first drug eluting stents appeared in America in 2003. I was there. I have seen bare metal stents that are still open after 17 years. There are no plans to remove a stent unless the patient develops an allergic reaction to the stent or the chemical on it.
    Please next time get a real expert, maybe the American College of Cardiology could provide an answer. By the way, I am a nurse member of the ACC.

    December 15, 2010 at 21:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. T-Rish

    Thank you Dr. Weidermann for the explanation. I had a stent put in after a heart attach in late August of this year. Although I had asked my Cardiologist many questions, this was not one that even ocurred to me.
    And yes, women present quite differently from men with their heart attacks. I has no pain, just an unusual feeling on my right side (breast, neck and under arm), then came sweating and nausea. Even the emergency crew blew off my symptoms. . .no lights, no sirens, just 3 asprin and a nitro-glycerin. Thank good for an alert and concerned emergency room staff!

    December 15, 2010 at 21:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Isellstents

    This message is to CNN. Please when communicating to the public regarding cardiovascular procedures try consulting a real cardiologist and not an expert in oncology, or I think your very own Sanjay Gupta knows more about the procedure than the esteemed Dr Brawley. It is this kind of misinformation that does the public a huge injustice and with the resources that you have to answer these questions you should be doing a MUCH BETTER JOB. The public deserves at least that much effort

    December 15, 2010 at 22:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Rhenjamin

    My father's stent lasted 4 days. Massive coronary triggered by blocked/closed/obstructed stent on July 4th 2009. Died from multiple organ failure July 19th 2009.

    December 16, 2010 at 00:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. RON

    That was a good read. I enjoyed the comments the most and had a good belly laugh, the best health therapy, over Palin's brain stent.

    December 16, 2010 at 00:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. carter king

    The article is wrong on one very important point. Stents are never removed from the body, they stay there for the rest of your life. They can be re-ballooned or even have new stents deployed within old stents, but once implanted they are permanent.

    December 16, 2010 at 10:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Sara

    The interesting point is that no one has said anything about lasting of drug eluting stents.

    yes ,metal stents last for ever ! but what about drug eluting stents?

    Does anybody here know about its lasting?

    I've heard they last just four or five years !!!!! (I've read in some medical papers and have seen in some books.....am sure about the source)

    because the drug does not let the endothelium to be healed and finally there
    would be a plaque and ......don't want to describe further.

    any idea?

    and about removing them, well, sure it MUST be a way to remove them !
    For God's sake, what's that?!

    January 1, 2011 at 15:25 | Report abuse | Reply
    • sylv

      i had 2 stents put in 5 yrs ago then last yr they blocked they tried to unblock them but could not they punctured my arterie then week later i went into cardiac arrest but i survived it .But now i have another blockage in another arterie and they say the stents are coated but mine re blocked .

      August 27, 2011 at 17:09 | Report abuse |
    • Patsy wellwood

      I've had my drug stent in now for 11 years, no problems

      February 16, 2017 at 21:01 | Report abuse |
  24. Macia Hesselmang

    excellent submit, very informative. I wonder why the other specialists of this sector don't notice this. You should continue your writing. I'm sure, you have a huge readers' base already!

    July 27, 2012 at 03:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. shepherd

    Not a good idea to introduce a laymen as expert and let that pseudo doc give such stupid advices.

    October 17, 2012 at 08:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Susan

    I have a history of DVT and recently found out I have the antibodies of Lupus plus sojourn's and fibromyalgia in 2010 a stent was placed and was crushed by my constant swelling, I just found a vascular surgeon that decide to give it a try again because it really helped me the procedure was done on Nov 1 2013 now we are in Dec and the stent is half way clogged we are scheduled to go back and unclog the stent. Hopefully this will work because its affecting the blood flow to my feet

    December 15, 2013 at 07:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Alen

      If you are still alive? I too have FactorV Leiden & Prothrombin 3 (total of 1300% more blood clotting over average).
      Have survived 7 Heart Attacks, 2 Pulmonary Embolisms, 2 Strokes, am in my 60's. I have 6 stents, ( 3 redoos inside of 3 previous) & those are reclogging now.! 18 months later. First 5 heart attak /stents only lasted 2 years before another heart attack. I have been told by the hospital cardioligist NO MORE STENTS (in these 3 arteries for me!) End of the line 4 me. Hospital wont do a bypass due to my blood clotting disorder. Also have bad Diabetes, Cholesterol, Tryglicerides.
      Re your Fibromyalgia, get "The New Arthritis Cure" by Dr. Bruce Fife. for the REAL cause of your heart disease, fibromyagia, and other diseases! Could save your life. Good luck to all. May 2017
      For your Fibromyalgia_ get "The New Arhtritis Cure" by Dr. Bruce Fife. It also explains the real reason you have heart disease!

      May 21, 2017 at 06:47 | Report abuse |
  27. lucinda

    I was 34 you old after having my son June 7 2012 I suffered A heattack from a heart spasm. 2 archery Where picture perfect but left 1 was 80% clogged I was wonder How long dose it take to clog 80 % I don't drink non smoker I have 7 kids

    January 7, 2014 at 13:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. eve Mille

    I think the stents can be removed. But they refuse it in the us I think because of capitalism. other places they take them out with a magnet and so on.I have one stent and take no meds. Take natural healing.its over a year and I feel great and smoke. I hope I can have that thing removed I know I dis not needed it. They over stent here in the US. The med are nothing but rat poison and make people sick another way that they can make more money.

    March 20, 2014 at 00:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Marg

    I have 6 stents, 1 in each groin,1 in center of stomach -closed and 3 in upper right leg.My Dr. thinks that they are corupted and it does not show up on saunagram.Only way they can find out is do an exploatory. Has anyone out there had this problem??

    October 7, 2014 at 16:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. charles cairns

    had stent put in my 99 percent blocked artery on 9/2/2000- I take extra hot cayenne pepper every day- feeling good at 84-

    December 19, 2014 at 20:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. judy p

    My daughter in law had 4heart attacks 8years ago and went to piedmont hospital in Atlanta.the Dr gave her 12stints then afterwards she went to the mayo clinic,they said she should have never had 12 ,there were things the Dr.could have done .she had directions of her arteries,from her birth control pills,its unheard of having that many and living.she is having problems now,she is at dr office she was 38,or 39,beautiful no weight or health problems,when it happen.please pray for her.

    August 4, 2015 at 11:57 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Alen

      Google & takeCayene Pepper imediatly! If your still alive. Also 700mg of Vit. E oil, 200mg Coq10, plenty Fish Oil, Garlic.
      Good luck. May 2017

      May 21, 2017 at 07:01 | Report abuse |
    • danny

      Is everything okay now?

      August 10, 2017 at 18:59 | Report abuse |
  32. Name*millie

    My Mom recently had a stress test and other test done for tingling and numbness in her arms. Everything came back fine. The doctor said she had the heart of a 20 year old ( she is 81) the next week they admitted her to the hospital and ended up running a stent from her arm. She feels like it was not necesssary and can not sleep because of the "pain" in her arm all the way to her feet. Can the stent be removed and why is it causing such pain? Any other ideas?

    January 20, 2016 at 14:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Name*vikas dhamija

    R/sir
    Kya koi aise technology bhi aye hai.Jo heart ke stent ko he remove kar de.

    April 27, 2016 at 14:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Sue

    i had a Stemi heart attack in April 2016 and had two bare metal stents placed in my heart. I did everything, lowered my triglycerides , total cholesterol ect., took all my meds and went to cardiac rehab. Felt great the first month then in June I had a second heart attack because the stents re-blocked 100%. How can this happen ?

    June 16, 2016 at 20:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Suela Sue

    I suffered an heart attack in 2002. I had one stent placed in my right artery which there was a 95% blockage. I haven't really had any problems. It has now been 14 years that I have had the stent. There are times that I feel the stent is blocked. When I go to the my cardiologist for test and asked questions, he would say, if the stent was blocked, believe me, you will know ! What I have noticed is the more that I stay active with movement, such as a brisk 30 minute walk a day, the better I feel. Sometimes I feel that I angina approaching due to a slight pain in my chest area, and how I feel when I walk. I sometime I feel that I am straining when I walk daily. but I push on. If I feel too uncomfortable, I know the stop. What I have noticed is that when I gain weight, I tend to feel angina more frequently, and feel that I have to push myself to make that mile and one half. I'm now working on the weight problem and can tell and feel the difference. My recommendation is to stay active with some sort of movement. If you are heavy, work on losing the weight. Walking everyday also has helped in keeping me tone and the weight down. I drink plenty of water ! Exercise does matter, and It matters a lot. The more that I walk, the better I feel and the easier it is for me the make that mile and half daily walk. All of my stress and blood test have been good. So, I have to agree that "Stents" last a very long time. At least, I haven't had any problems with mine. God is good !

    June 23, 2016 at 17:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. littlefamilyhome

    Well the cardiologists that worked on my husband Sunday night when he had a massive heart attack said stents usually only truly last around 12 years on average. My husband's lasted 12yrs and 5 months before they clogged off. So they slide new stents inside of the old stents. They told me however that he if ever had another heart attack he would not survive such, even though he is only 68. So if someone's stents last 30 years they should be praising their maker.

    January 25, 2017 at 18:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. ordinarypatient

    I just had stents put in 31 days ago... I was not given any information regarding these. My surgeon told me "I can put them in but they ALWAYS clog"... he has me so concerned. I was going to have my "great" toe amputated when I went in for the surgery as my toe went "black"... they said it was purple. During the surgery they were able to save my toe. I to, wanted to know how long they will last? Mine are pinching me inside my legs... I have numb tops of legs. I am just getting into the walking again and can't wait till I can do a brisk walk. I am greatful there are doctors who can address these issues. The pain was unbearable BEFORE surgery.. I never want to go back to that.

    March 31, 2017 at 22:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. website

    https://www.instagram.com/rede_tabarato/

    June 6, 2017 at 19:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. danny

    I just recently had a stent placed in my heart, by I think a stent-happy doctor. When I drove myself to the ER, I was never offered the nitroglycerin tablets. Just rushed off to the cath lab.

    August 10, 2017 at 19:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. gajanan d ranvir

    I have chest pain after angioplasty and taking prescribed medicine togather. What can I do please guide.

    September 10, 2017 at 12:30 | Report abuse | Reply
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    September 10, 2017 at 20:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Vince Yaklin

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    September 10, 2017 at 21:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. jeweleneshanks@hotmail.com

    can you feel are tell when a stent breaks?

    October 13, 2017 at 15:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Albert baker

    I had 5 stents install in 16 ,all my stents are blocked, dr told me my body was rejecting the stents that i need by pass NOW,JUST LEFT HOSPITAL, NO WORD YET FROM DR .JUST WAITING ....

    October 21, 2017 at 06:21 | Report abuse | Reply

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