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Peripheral Intravascular Stent Placement
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
- A peripheral intravascular stent is a metal tube that is placed into an artery in your leg. It can be placed in the iliac, femoral, popliteal, or tibial arteries. It is used to hold open your artery, so that blood can flow through it. An artery is a blood vessel that carries blood with oxygen to parts of your body. When an artery in your leg is narrow or blocked, blood cannot get past the blocked area to your foot. This is often caused by a disease called atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is when fat or cholesterol (plaque) builds up on the inside of your artery walls. When your artery is blocked, you may feel pain when you move your legs or when you are at rest. You may have sores on your feet that do not heal. Your skin color may change to very dark or black.
- Angioplasty is sometimes used to place a stent. With angioplasty, a balloon on a catheter (tube) is used to dilate (enlarge) your artery. The balloon is inflated (blown up) to widen your artery. The catheter has a stent on it, which is placed in your artery to hold the artery open. You may need more than one stent if a large area of the artery is blocked. When the stent is placed it stays in your artery for the rest of your life. Having a stent placed in your leg artery may decrease your leg pain. After this procedure, you may be able to walk farther and faster.
- Keep a current list of your medicines: Include the amounts, and when, how, and why you take them. Take the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency. Throw away old medicine lists. Use vitamins, herbs, or food supplements only as directed.
- Take your medicine as directed: Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not working as expected. Tell him about any medicine allergies, and if you want to quit taking or change your medicine.
- Pain medicine: You may be given medicine to take at home to decrease or take away pain. Your caregiver will tell you how much to take and how often to take it. Take the medicine exactly as directed by your caregiver. Do not wait until the pain is too bad before taking your medicine. The medicine may not work as well to decrease your pain if you wait too long to take it. Tell caregivers if the pain medicine does not help, or if your pain comes back too soon. If you are taking medicine that makes you drowsy, do not drive or use heavy equipment.
- Aspirin: This medicine may be given to help thin the blood to keep blood clots from forming. This medicine makes it more likely for you to bleed or bruise.
Keep all appointments:
It is very important to follow up with your caregiver. He may do tests to check how well blood is flowing to your feet. Write down any questions you may have. This way you will remember to ask these questions during your next visit.
Do not bathe or shower until your caregiver says it is okay. Ask your caregiver how to take care of the wound in your groin.
It is never too late to quit smoking. Smoking increases your risk of getting atherosclerosis. Smoking harms the heart, lungs, and the blood. You are more likely to have a heart attack, lung disease, and cancer if you smoke. You will help yourself and those around you by not smoking. If you smoke, ask your caregiver for more information about how to stop.
You may need to walk 30 to 45 minutes, three times a week. Over time, exercise may help decrease your leg pain. You may be able to walk farther and faster. Exercise such as lifting weights may help increase your strength. It may make it easier to do more exercise over time. Exercise may also help improve your diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol. Do not start exercising until you ask your caregiver about the best exercise program for you.
Control your diabetes, high blood pressure, or high blood cholesterol levels:
Diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol blood levels increase your risk of getting atherosclerosis. Managing these conditions may lower your risk of problems after stent placement. Ask your caregiver for more information about these risks.
- Eat a variety of healthy foods every day. Your diet should include fruits, vegetables, breads, dairy products, and protein (such as chicken, fish, and beans). Eating healthy foods may help you feel better and have more energy.
- Ask your caregiver if you should be on a special diet. You may need to change the way you eat to decrease your blood sugar. You may be told to eat foods that are low in sugar, fat, and cholesterol. You may be told to limit the amount of salt you eat. Special cookbooks can make it easier to plan low fat, low salt, or low sugar meals. Your caregiver or dietitian can help you plan a diet.
- Medicines: Your caregiver may give you medicines to help you manage your diabetes, high blood pressure, or high blood cholesterol levels. Ask your caregiver about more information about these medicines.
- Foot care: If you have diabetes, you need to take very good care of your feet. Ask your caregiver for more information about caring for your feet when you have diabetes.
CONTACT A CAREGIVER IF:
- You have a fever.
- Your incision is swollen, red, or has pus coming from it.
- Your skin is itchy, swollen, or has a rash.
- You have questions or concerns about your procedure or medicine.
SEEK CARE IMMEDIATELY IF:
- You have a nose bleed or any other bleeding that does not stop.
- You see any new blood on your bandage, your groin wound comes apart, or there is a steady stream of blood coming from it. If any of these happen, lie down, put pressure on the site, and get help immediately.
- You have a lot of pain under your bandage, in your abdomen, or in your back.
- Your foot becomes cold, numb, or weak, or it changes color or tingles.
- You have chest pain or trouble breathing that is getting worse over time.
- You suddenly feel lightheaded and have trouble breathing.
- You have new and sudden chest pain. You may have more pain when you take deep breaths or cough. You may cough up blood.
- Your leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
- You have signs of a stroke: The following signs are an emergency. Call 911 immediately if you have any of the following:
- Weakness or numbness in your arm, leg, or face (may be on only one side of your body)
- Confusion and problems speaking or understanding speech
- A very bad headache that may feel like the worst headache of your life
- Not being able to see out of one or both of your eyes
- Feeling too dizzy to stand
- Call 911 or an ambulance if you have any signs of a heart attack:
- Discomfort in the center of your chest that feels like squeezing, pressure, fullness, or pain, that lasts for more than a few minutes or keeps returning
- Discomfort or pain in your back, neck, jaw, stomach, or one or both of your arms
- Feeling sick to your stomach
- Having trouble breathing
- A sudden cold sweat, particularly in combination with chest discomfort or trouble breathing
- Feeling very lightheaded or dizzy, particularly in combination with chest discomfort or trouble breathing
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.