February 12, 2010

Clinton’s Stents Predictable Despite His Healthy Lifestyle

Posted in Heart Disease in the News tagged , , , , , , , at 4:33 pm by keepyourhearthealthy

What kind of heart disease blogger would I be if I didn’t put my 2 cents in on the Bill Clinton heart issue?  As most everyone knows by now, Clinton was admitted to the hospital yesterday for placement of 2 stents in his heart arteries.  He was reportedly feeling some chest discomfort and an angiogram in the hospital confirmed 2 blockages in his grafts.  Notice that the reports say his “grafts” were blocked and not his native vessels.  If you remember, Clinton had 4 vessel bypass surgery only 6 years ago.  Why are his grafts failing so soon?  Most likely its due to the known high incidence of failure rates for saphenous vein grafts.  Clinton had to have 4 vessels bypassed which means his cardiac surgeons needed quite a bit of substitute arteries to bypass around all his blockages.  I’m certain they used the best arteries known as the internal mammary arteries.  But if they needed more vessels to completely cover his heart blockages, they would have resorted to the more unfavorable saphenous vein which is a long vein from the leg. 

If you look back at one of my previous articles from January 24, titled “Why Did I Have a Second Bypass or Stents So Soon?” you will see that the saphenous vein grafts have a 20% failure rate within 2 years!  So, Clinton probably didn’t do anything wrong in his lifestyle to cause the need for stents so soon after his bypass.  Reportedly, he was exercising and eating well.  Instead, the likely culprit is the known accelerated failure of the saphenous vein grafts. 

I hope that this unfortunate incident brings more awareness to heart disease patients.  The lesson everyone should learn here is that bypass surgery is NOT a cure!  If you have had bypass, you still need to be very cautious about any concerning symptoms.  Yes, you must still eat right, exercise and take your medicines but don’t let your guard down.  If you feel some unusual chest discomfort (like Clinton did), let your cardiologist know as soon as possible.  It’s better to be safe than sorry!

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