Having a stent placed can improve blood flow to the heart and relieve symptoms like chest pain. While the procedure is relatively safe, patients wonder how it may impact their life expectancy. Here is an overview of how stents affect life expectancy.
What is a heart stent?
A stent is a tiny, expandable metal mesh tube that is placed in a blocked coronary artery during a procedure called angioplasty. The stent props the artery open to restore blood flow to the heart muscle. This can relieve symptoms of coronary artery disease like chest pain (angina) and shortness of breath.
There are two main types of stents:
- Bare metal stents – Made of durable, inert metal like stainless steel. These stents provide structural support but no medication.
- Drug-eluting stents – Have a polymer coating that slowly releases medication to help prevent the artery from becoming blocked again. These reduce the risk of re-narrowing of the artery (restenosis).
What is the life expectancy after getting a stent?
In general, getting a stent does not negatively impact life expectancy. Many studies show that stents are effective at improving blood flow and prolonging life in the right patients.
According to the American Heart Association, the average life expectancy after coronary stent placement is:
- Age 50-59 years: 27.2 more years of life (for both men and women)
- Age 60-69 years: 20.2 more years (for men) and 22.0 more years (for women)
- Age 70-79 years: 12.8 more years (for men) and 15.2 more years (for women)
Overall, the prognosis for stent patients is encouraging, especially if steps are taken to reduce other heart disease risks after the procedure.
Factors that affect life expectancy after a stent
While stents boost lifespan on average, several factors impact an individual patient’s life expectancy after getting a stent. These include:
Type of stent
Getting a drug-eluting stent may provide better long-term results than a bare metal stent. Studies show lower rates of re-narrowing and repeat procedures with drug-eluting stents in the first few years after placement.
Location and extent of blockage
Where the blockage is located in the artery and how severe it is can affect prognosis. Longer blockages or those located at certain high-risk spots may increase the likelihood of future heart attacks.
Other medical conditions
Pre-existing conditions like diabetes, kidney disease and lung disease can negatively impact the lifespan of stent patients. Managing these other diseases is key.
Making heart-healthy lifestyle changes after getting a stent is crucial to prolonging life. This includes quitting smoking, losing weight, eating well and staying active.
Taking medications as prescribed like aspirin, anti-platelets and statins is important to help prevent blood clots and reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke.
Age and sex
Younger stent patients have a lower risk of complications and death than older ones. Women tend to have higher life expectancy than men after stenting.
Can stents extend life expectancy?
For patients with chronic stable angina, stents can relieve symptoms and extend lifespan. They improve life expectancy by:
- Restoring blood flow to the heart muscle to reduce the risk of heart damage or fatal arrhythmias
- Treating blockages before heart attack or death can occur
- Preventing plaque rupture and clotting that can cause heart attacks
- Allowing patients to be more active and improve function
In a 10-year study, the use of stents improved life expectancy compared to only using drug therapy. On average, stents provided 1.9 to 2.4 years of extra life.
What is the average life expectancy after bypass vs stents?
Both coronary artery bypass surgery and angioplasty with stenting are effective procedures. But on average, bypass provides a small survival advantage:
|Procedure||10-Year Survival Rate|
|Bypass Surgery||Around 90%|
|Angioplasty with Stenting||Around 87%|
However, the outlook is similar for bypass and stenting in patients with certain high-risk blockage patterns. Overall health and severity of heart disease play a role too.
Can you live a long life with stents?
Most patients can expect to live a long, productive life with stents if they take care of their health. While no procedure eliminates the risk of future heart problems, stents effectively relieve symptoms and prolong survival when used in the right patients.
After stenting, working closely with the cardiology team provides the best chance for a normal lifespan. Follow their advice on lifestyle changes, cardio-protective medications and ongoing monitoring.
For many patients with coronary artery disease, stents offer a minimally invasive way to restore blood flow and relieve symptoms like chest pain. On average, life expectancy after stenting is encouraging – at least 10 more years for younger patients.
To get the most benefit from stents, patients should adhere to prescribed medication, make heart-healthy lifestyle changes and keep up with medical care. While no procedure can guarantee longevity, stents give many people significant extra years of life.