January 16, 2011

Absorbable Stents…The Wave of the Future?

Posted in Heart Disease in the News, New Heart Studies, Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , , , at 3:37 pm by keepyourhearthealthy

Stents for peripheral vessels

Image via Wikipedia

Europe approved the first bioabsorbable stent this week giving cardiac patients hope for a future without the need for Plavix or Effient.

Ever since stents became widely popular over 20 years ago the art of stent placement has been evolving.  Stents are tiny wire-mesh tubes placed over a blockage in an artery of the heart.  Initially bare metal stents were used but they were prone to inflammation and further bloackages within several years in some cases.  Eventually drug coated or drug eluting stents were developed which lowered the rate of reblockage as long as the patient takes aspirin and either Plavix or Effient.  Without Plavix or Effient, patients with drug coated stents are more likely to have a heart attack related to blockages within their stent.

The concept of stenting a heart artery at this point in time is not perfect.  Europe hopes to bring it closer to perfection with the latest in stent technology.  A bioabsorbable stent will soon be available for implanting in the general public of Europe. This new absorbable stent is absorbed by the artery wall and thereby nearly vanishes within years.  The stent has been shown in studies to be at least one-third absorbed within 2 years.  A stent that vanishes means patients will no longer be required to take Plavix or Effient.

Patients in the US may be able to enroll in a global trial using the new absorbable stents later this year.  Don’t expect to see them going mainstream here anytime in the next few years though.  Large-scale studies need to be completed long before a technology such as this can be FDA-approved in the US.

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