Dissolving Stents: Do Your Homework

MIAMI. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – For decades, treating coronary heart disease involved using tiny metal stents to prop open clogged arteries in the heart. Once they’re in, they don’t come out which doctors’ say can cause problems. But a new type of stent has been in the works for 15 years and it was finally put to the test and this one is fueling hope for 850,000 patients and their doctors.

Frank Ukset knows all too well the burning chest pain that comes with a blocked artery. That‘s why he joined more than 2,000 volunteers for a study that would help him and help doctors advance cardiovascular technology.

Ukset told Ivanhoe, “This is something that they’re using in Europe and it’s now over here.”

The study compared traditional metal stents which are permanently implanted in the artery to experimental ones that dissolve after two or three years, leaving behind a restored blood vessel.

Mauricio Cohen, MD, Interventional Cardiologist at the University of Miami Health System told Ivanhoe, “The stents need to do their job during the first six months or first year; then we don’t need the stent anymore. Once the vessel is healed, then why do we need a foreign body?”

However, the study showed less-than-average results. After one year, the percentage of patients who developed target lesion failure (a combination of heart disease-related deaths, heart attacks attributed to the treated vessel and repeat procedures) was 7.8 percent with the dissolvable stent and 6.1 percent with a metal stent. Also, 1.5 percent of dissolvable stent patients developed blood clots more than twice those with metal stents at 0.7 percent.

Still, Dr. Cohen says a stent that dissolves could reduce long-term complications in the artery like inflammation. And that’s not the only benefit.

Dr. Cohoe said, “It allows for future bypass surgery. It would allow the vessel to return almost to normal at the site where the stent was placed.”

Frank Ukset has had no problems so far.  “I feel perfect after that,” he explained.

But he and the other patients in this study will be monitored for another five years to see if there are any long-term complications.

The study was only one year long, not long enough to see if there are any side effects when the stents dissolve, which is why a longer study of 5,000 patients is now underway. The company that makes the new stents is expected to present their study to the FDA this year. They will not say how much the dissolvable stents will cost.