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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.

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soundoff (81 Responses)
  1. Janice

    Are stents ever rejected by your heart? How long does it take for your body to accept the stents?

    February 22, 2019 at 20:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Cindy Barnes

    Why post a question or comment, by the looks of the previous questions no one answers.....

    April 2, 2019 at 09:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Name*Paul

    just had a stent put in 4/3/2019 the procedure was easy , just hoping i get no blockage again

    April 4, 2019 at 11:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. NameTracey

    I had a stent put in right coronary artery in Feb 1998 at age 37 4months later my cardiologist said my artery closed around stent so put the largest one available there. In 2004 another area blocked so another stent. I'm diabetic since mid twenties well 7 weeks ago my stents placed in 1998 collapsed and I had an mi with stemi the only reason I survived was I had grown collateral arteries so I guess my stent collapsed slowly the treatment this time was 3 new stents total 6 in my right coronary artery I was under impression stents last your lifetime they didn't clog with plaque or blood clots I am only 58 now and nervous about these stents the cardiologist said there wasn't any disease this time it was stent failure is this common? For stents to collapse?

    May 1, 2019 at 18:39 | Report abuse | Reply
    • johnny r

      Gosh, where did you learn proper writing, ie punctuation, etc? Your story reads a bit like a X- WORD PUZZLE. 😦

      May 30, 2019 at 13:38 | Report abuse |
  5. Tabassum Ayoub

    I want to do an angeoplasty.which stent will be better for me

    June 24, 2019 at 07:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Thurman Brown

    At age 48 (1991) I had a triple by-pass. 7 years later (1998) a stent was placed in one of the by-passes. a year later another stent in second by-pass, then 8 months later another stent in the third by-pass. 10, 11 and 12 years another stent was install in the same blocked coronary arteries. Then 18 month ago another stent in a new single artery. Now at age 75 (2019) the first stent that was installed ln 1998 was 70% blocked. They installed a new stent inside the old one. The computer info says a stent last about 4to 5 years. My oldest stent (total 8) is 21 years old.

    June 28, 2019 at 00:35 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.