Stents Help the Medicine Go Down

Medicated stents may lower risk of heart attacks and blood vessel blockages

(RxWiki News) Patients who have previously suffered from a blood vessel blockage and received a medication-coated stent to prop the artery open may have a lower risk of developing another blockage or having a heart attack.

Heart patients with narrowed coronary arteries usually receive balloon angioplasty to widen the artery. That is often followed by implantation of a stent. Many of the newer varieties are coated with medication.

"Ask questions about stent types before implantation."

Dr. Richard Krasuski, director of Adult Congenital Heart Disease Services and a staff cardiologist at the Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute at Cleveland Clinic, noted that there had been concern about blood clots forming inside coated stents.

However, he said that new research suggests patients who receive drug-coated stents fare better than those receiving bare metal stents. Dr. Krasuski said his study suggests that the stent may be doing more than just preventing another blockage. He said it is likely that as the blood flows through the stent, the medication is not only reaching the vessel it is propping open, but likely those further away too.

Researchers collected angiographic images and procedural information from 463 adults who were implanted with a single stent in a coronary artery, and who returned for additional intervention within 12 months. Those images allowed them to check for signs of blocked vessels. Of those, 342 patients were implanted with bare metal stents, while the remainder were drug-eluting stents.

During the course of the study, researchers were able to demonstrate through a study of the images that patients who received medicated stents had a lower chance of having a heart attack or developing another blockage in blood vessels downstream of the stent.

If the research is confirmed it could change how heart disease is treated, and also could impact the treatment of other organs. Researchers also noted that stents could be used to deliver small amounts of medication directly to blood vessels. This could help the drugs work better, reduce side effects and improve patients compliance in taking medication.

The observational study was published in the American Heart Journal.

Review Date: 
September 16, 2011