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Heart Attack Patients Benefit More From Drug-Coated Than Bare-Metal Stents

Armen Hareyan's picture
Heart Attack

Drug-coated stents are found to be better than bare-metal ones for patients who suffer heart attack or are at high risk of heart attack.

A joint team of researchers from Harvard and Brigham and Women's Hospitals examined 7000 heart attack patients who were treated in Massachusetts during the period between 2003 and 2004. Drug-coated stents were implanted into arteries of 4016 patients who underwent heart attack treatment, bare-metal stents were implanted in 3201 patients.

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All patients were followed about two years and showed that drug-coated stents have more advantages than bare-metal ones. Death cases occurred in 8.5% of those with drug-coated stents, compared with 11.6% of those with bare-metal stents. Second heart attack occurred in 7.4% of patients in the first group, compared with 8.5% of second group patients. New artery-opening procedures were needed in 10.7% of drug stent patients, compared with 14.9% of metal stent patients.

Drug-coated stents started to be widely used in patients undergoing artery-opening procedure (angioplasty) after they got approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2003. These stents are now implanted in 2/3 of heart patients, which urges the need of comparing the new technology with the old one. This research looked at patients who suffered heart attack and who were at high risk. It also found that those who had heart attack were 50% likely to receive a stent implant because of safety concerns. Those at risk were much more likely to receive drug-coated stents.

Despite of clear evidence that drug-coated stents are better than the metal ones, researchers mention that bare-metal stents still need to be used in cases when doctors are not sure that patients will properly take clot-preventing drug clopidogrel - if the drug is not regularly taken, the patient may suffer thrombosis. Doctors also must turn to bare-metal stents when a patient needs angioplasty. They also consider the location of artery blockage, the size of blood vessel and other difficulties that may occur because of drug-coated stents, before choosing the type of implanted stent.

Researchers initiated the trial to measure the risk of drug-coated stents, but they found that these ones are much better for heart attack patients than bare-metal stents. And since the patients were followed for a long period of time and were examined very closely, this research results are pretty reliable.