February 20, 2010

Clinton’s Stents Were Not In A Graft

Posted in Heart Disease in the News tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 4:12 pm by keepyourhearthealthy

According to theheart.org, Bill Clinton’s recent stents were not implanted in a bypass graft artery.  Many of us had speculated that his recent heart procedure was related to failure of a saphenous vein graft from his bypass surgery in 2004.  This may in fact still be the case!  Sometimes interventionalists (cardiologists who implant stents) find it easier to place stents in the native vessels than the bypass graft that was used to work around the blocked native vessel.  If the saphneous vein graft was too thoroughly blocked, they would have picked the path of least resistance and stented the native artery itself.  

You might find that to be a strange concept.  After all, why would they have chosen to do an invasive bypass surgery on the former President 6 years ago when his native artery could have just as easily been stented?  Believe it or not, cardiology procedures have improved and even advanced in the past 6 years!  Traditionally bypass was preferred when there were too many vessels that needed to be fixed all at the same time.  Putting in multiple stents in several different arteries during the same procedure was considered risky.  However, as stents improved and interventionalists became more adept at placing them, we actually started seeing more stents being put in on patients who would have previously been only a candidate for bypass.  This is good news for people who dread the idea of bypass surgery (who wouldn’t?!) and instead now have the option of getting multiple stents in more than one artery.  There is even a method of “staging” where you may get stents in one artery and then get more stents in another artery a few days later.  This minimizes the risk even more and helps treat severe heart disease without resorting to bypass surgery.

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