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Why do I need medication if my artery blockage was fixed with a stent?

If you were diagnosed with having one or more blockages in the coronary arteries, you may have undergone procedures called angioplasty and stenting. During angioplasty, an interventional cardiologist feeds a thin tube called a catheter through your artery to the site of a blockage. The catheter has a tiny balloon at the end that opens and closes to push aside the blockage. Then, a metal, mesh tube called a stent is placed in the artery to serve as scaffolding to prop it open.

At first, your body will recognize the stent as a foreign body and will try to heal the site of the “injury” by forming a blood clot. Blood-thinning medications help prevent this from happening while your body is repairing itself. Over a period of weeks or months, your body will cover the surface of the stent with the same layer of cells that covers the rest of the artery. Eventually, the stent will be fully incorporated as a part of that artery. Taking blood-thinning medication during this process is critical for preventing blood clots that could lead to a heart attack. So even though the stent is in place, the life-saving work of keeping the artery open is not yet done. Be sure you fully understand when and how to take the medications that were prescribed for you as part of your stenting procedure. If you have any questions at all, talk with the physician who prescribed those medications to you.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.