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Stents

Drug-Coated Stents Boost Death Rate by Over 400% in Heart Attack Patients

Thursday, February 28, 2008 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: stents, drug-coated stents, angioplasty

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(NewsTarget) Drug-coated stents increased the risk of death in certain heart attack patients by nearly five times according to a recent study presented at the meeting of the European Society of Cardiology in Vienna. "Patients are now very wary about these stents,'' lead researcher Gabriel Steg said. "Personally, I don't use these stents in heart attack patients any longer.''

A stent is a wire-mesh tube that is used to prop open blood vessels that have been cleared with small inflatable balloons in an angioplasty. Because the placement of stents can often lead to the formation of scar tissue, which blocks the blood vessel and can cause further health problems, many stents are now designed to exude drugs that suppress immune response and cell division. In 2006, however, researchers discovered that drug-coating stents increased patients' risk of suffering fatal blood clots compared with the more traditional stents.

In Steg's study, nearly 2,400 heart attack patients were monitored for two years after receiving a stent. Among patients whose heart attack was detectable through an electrocardiogram, those with drug-coated stents had a death rate 4.7 times higher than those with bare-metal stents. But Steg said that the true risk was probably actually about six times higher, once certain key statistical adjustments had been made.

Because the study was observational rather than experimental, other factors may have interfered to lower the death rate, Steg said. It is entirely possible that the true danger of drug-coated stents is even higher.

Heart attack patients whose attack was not detectable by electrocardiogram did not have a significantly different death rate, regardless of which stent they were given.

"This data is serious," said Eckhart Fleck a doctor who runs the largest catheterization laboratory in Germany. "This will lead to more concrete indications for drug-eluting stents. Not everybody needs to have one."

"These findings just go to show that over-hyped medical procedures and devices strongly recommended by doctors often just kill patients," said consumer health advocate Mike Adams. "If you want to clear your arteries, you don't need a stent. You need to change your diet and take up exercise," Adams said.
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