Arterial blockage (atherosclerosis) can happen in any artery, including:
Atherosclerosis affects medium and large sized arteries in the body. It most frequently affects the aorta (the largest blood vessel in the body), the coronary arteries, the cerebral arteries (which supply the brain) and sometimes arteries in the legs and abdomen. The involvement of the arteries is usually located at places where the artery branches into two.
Atherosclerosis, or "hardening of the arteries," occurs when cholesterol and scar tissue build up, forming a substance called plaque inside the arteries. Plaque narrows and clogs the arteries, decreasing blood flow. If the blood supply to the heart muscle is reduced, a heart attack can occur. If the blood supply to the brain is cut off, a stroke can occur. And if the blood supply to the arms and legs is reduced, gangrene can result.
Stenting is a preventive procedure against these potentially life-threatening events.
Symptoms and diagnosis
PAD leg symptoms are cramping, pain, or ‘tiredness’ in the leg or hip muscles during exercise and usually go away at rest. Sometimes the condition can be managed through medication and lifestyle changes. When it can’t, stenting can be the preferred treatment.
Carotid stenosis or carotid artery disease can be mild, and if no symptoms are felt, may be treated with medication. If you have experienced any warning signs—weakness or loss of coordination on one side of the body, sudden loss of vision in one eye, loss of the ability to speak, or other neurological deficits—your doctor will intervene and may recommend carotid stenting.
For patients with renal or abdominal disease, there are usually no obvious symptoms. When symptoms are present, they may include abdominal pain, low back pain that may radiate to the buttocks, groin, or legs or the feeling of a ‘heartbeat’ or pulse in the abdomen. Patients with renal blockage may have very high blood pressure and renal failure.
Kidney and carotid stenting is done with a distal embolic protection device such as a filter. The filter is first deployed and then balloon angioplasty and stenting are done. Finally, the filter is recaptured and removed. The filter protects the kidneys and the groin from having emboli. The patient remains awake, without any sedation, during a carotid stent procedure to allow for close monitoring of the venous status.
Life after stenting
If you want to prevent another intervention, you need to make lifestyle changes including taking your medications as prescribed, be aware of your cholesterol and blood pressure numbers, quit smoking, change your diet as instructed, and increase your level of exercise.