Medicated Stents Safe For Heart

Heart patients who have undergone angioplasty can breathe more easy.


One of the largest follow-up studies has come out with “reassuring” results that suggest medicated stents (used during angioplasty) are safe. This clears serious concerns raised on medicated stents with regard to blood-clot formation, leading to heart attacks.

Stents are spring-like devices inserted in the arteries after clearing the blockage during an angioplasty procedure to keep them open. Drug-coated or medicated stents, first introduced in 2003, incorporate medicines to prevent the artery from reclosing.

A huge debate has been raging over the last couple of years on the safety of medicated stents as against the bare-metal ones. Last year, reports started surfacing from studies on patients in Europe that drug-releasing stents carry a greater risk of blood clot formation (stent thrombosis), thus leading to heart attacks.

The study holds a great relevance for India where the use of medicated stents is growing rapidly, and in 2006 was about 70% — about 40% of patients had medicated stents the previous year. The latest study carried out in the US thus nullifies the findings of earlier follow-ups which had said that medicated stents were riskier to use and thus had safety concerns, doctors say.

Says Ashok Seth, chairman and chief cardiologist Max Heart and Vascular Institute: “Studies and follow up trials on patients suggest that medicated stents are as safe as the metal ones. The latest US study nullifies the concern on drug-eluting stents, and these are no different from the metal ones.”

In fact, stents made by some Indian companies such as Sahajanand are almost ona par with the American/German ones used here, doctors say. Amongst the American stents used in India are ones by Johnson & Johnson and Abbott-Guidant.

The latest US study, presented at the American Heart Association, analyzed data on 20,654 stent patients in a Massachusetts data-base. About 65% of patients received a stent-coated with a drug to reduce re-narrowing of the artery and about 35% were implanted bare metal stents without the drug coating.

The Massachusetts study followed patients whose stents were implanted between April 2003 and December 2004. The incidence of heart attacks was similar in both groups, at 10.8% for drug-coated stent patients and 11.8% for those receiving bare metal. “In India, the case has been slightly different with a rare incidence of stent thrombosis cases,” Seth adds.

Source: The Times Of India

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