Diet Therapy for Stent Placement

Nora Saul, M.S, R.D., L.D.N., C.D.E.
Nora Saul is a Certified Diabetes Educator and Manager of Nutritional Education at the Joslin Diabetes Center

By Nora Saul

Today’s column focuses on a question from one of our readers who asks about diet therapy for stent placement.

Stents, which are wire-mesh tubes, are placed in arteries during angioplasty procedures to help maintain the integrity and viability of the newly de-clogged blood vessels. During angioplasty a balloon-tipped catheter (a thin, flexible tube) is threaded through an artery in the groin up to the blocked artery(ies).  Once the catheter reaches the intended artery, the small balloon is inflated, and then deflated, flattening the cholesterol plague against the artery wall.  This increases the available diameter for blood to flow freely.  A stent is then inserted to permanently keep the artery open.

Stents can be used in arteries in various parts of the body.  In addition to cardiac surgery, angioplasty with stent are used to treat peripheral artery disease (PAD) which is a blockage of the arteries in the legs and arms as well as in surgeries involving the arteries of the kidneys and the arteries in the neck leading to the brain.

Diet therapy is focused on the treatment and prevention of atherosclerosis (deposits of lipids) causing calcification in large and medium arteries.  Instead of labeling the diet heart healthy perhaps we should call it artery healthy since following it can benefit all the arteries in the body.  This type of diet is low in saturated fat and trans fat, high in omega 3 fatty acids, fiber (especially soluble fiber), low in sodium and sufficient in calories to provide for weight maintenance at a healthy weight.  According to the American Heart Association Guidelines the diet would include:

  • A minimum of 4.5 cups of fruits and vegetables a day
  • Two 3.5 ounce servings of oily fish a week
  • A minimum of 3 1 oz equivalent servings of whole grains
  • A minimum of 4 servings of nuts seeds and legumes a week
  • A maximum of 2 servings of processed meats a week
  • A maximum of 36 oz of sugar-sweetened beverages a week

Except for the recommendation concerning sugar-sweetened beverages (which should be avoided for persons with diabetes, except in the treatment of low blood sugar), the diet is entirely compatible with the dietary guidelines for diabetes.

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  1. As someone who, so far, has no stents, it’s not clear if the stent is placed inside the artery through the same arterial path as the balloon, or around the outside of the artery, obviously requiring additional surgery.

  2. Stents are also used for correcting an aneurysm. Snce this is a diabetes related newsletter, the AHA diet should even not have been mentioned as ir is based on the discredited USDA food pyramid.

  3. Dear Mr. Beatson:
    The stents are placed inside the artery in order to keep them open. They are placed at the same time the angioplasty is done.

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