George W Bush undergoes heart stent operation

Wednesday August 7 2013

Many newspapers and news websites are reporting on the news that former US president, George W Bush, has had a stent implanted in his coronary artery in order to improve the blood supply to his heart.

President Bush underwent a surgical procedure called a coronary angioplasty after tests found that there was a blockage in his coronary artery (the blood vessel that supplies the heart with blood).

What is a coronary angioplasty?

A coronary angioplasty (stent) is a procedure used to widen blocked or narrowed coronary arteries.

A short wire-mesh tube, called a stent, is inserted into an artery to allow blood to flow more freely through it.

Coronary angioplasty is sometimes known as percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA) or percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI).

Why is a coronary angioplasty necessary?

Like all organs in the body, the heart needs a constant supply of blood. This is supplied by two large blood vessels called the left and right coronary arteries. In older people, these arteries can become narrowed and hardened. This is known as atherosclerosis.

Hardening of the coronary arteries can restrict the flow of blood to the heart, which can lead to angina.

How is it performed?

During an angioplasty, a flexible tube called a catheter is used to insert a mesh tube, known as a stent, into the coronary artery.

A small balloon is inflated to open the stent, which pushes against the artery walls. This widens the artery, squashing fatty deposits against the artery wall so that blood can flow through it more freely.

How common is the procedure?

A coronary angioplasty is one of the most common types of treatment for the heart. Over 61,000 procedures are performed in England each year. Coronary angioplasties are most commonly performed in people who are 65 years of age or older as they are more likely to have angina.

A coronary angioplasty does not involve making major incisions in the body and is usually carried out safely in most people. Doctors refer to this as a minimally invasive form of treatment.