Heart Attack, Smoking and Stents
by R. Glass

On July 11, 1998 I suffered a heart attack and on July 13, a Palmaz-Schatz stent was placed in my circumflex artery. In twenty-five words or less, a stent is a titainum and steel lattice tube that is placed in the artery after balloon angioplasty is preformed.

(www.atlcard.com/stent.html also includes step-by-step instructions for installation but I strongly advise not performing angioplasty in your home even under adult supervision)

During the procedure, three large monitors showed various aspects of the procedure. I am not sure what each monitor showed because I was focused on only one (then again, there might have been one monitor and I could have been seeing triple).

After a few minutes, I realized I was looking at a picture of my heart. (To those students who say I don't have a heart, not so .) The darker paths are my arteries enhanced due to a dye introduced into the heart via the catheter inserted into the groin area that followed the femeral artery into the heart. I could have chosen not to watch but what fun would that be?

I felt no sensation, in fact it was rather surreal. It was like watching a show on the Discovery Channel. Unable to purchase a video (even with $19.95 plus S&H) of procedure, Dr. Ezratty provided two shots of the procedure.

The arrows drawn by the doctor show what appears to be a break in my circumflex artery. I am not sure if the artery is completely closed or there is a major restriction but it should appear to be a continous line. This image bares a time stamp of 15:08:46.

At 15:24:28, another picture was taken showing the circumflex artery with the stent in place. The time between the pictures is a mere 5 minutes and 42 seconds.

Here is a cropped version of the artery after the stent was in place.

One final note, Dr. Ezratty pointed to the artery I highlighted here. He said it is supposed to be straight. This is the artery damage caused by smoking. So, it came down to smoking or another stent or two, possibly by-pass surgery. So after close to 30 years of smoking, I quit. I never again want to hear someone say to me "Here, let this dissolve under your tongue, it is nitro-glycerin ..."

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