Dissolving Heart Stent Showing Promise: Study

Dissolving Heart Stent Showing Promise: Study

A new type of heart stent that acts similarly to dissolving stitches, passed its first major test in a large study, doctors said Monday.

Abbott Vascular’s dissolving Absorb stent performed as well as your traditional stent in the one-year study, but wasn’t any better, or more efficient, than the conventional stents being used today.

Still, the results are giving hope for a new generation of these dissolving devices, considering about 850,000 heart disease patients use stents each year in the United States alone.

If you’re not familiar with stents, they’re tiny mesh cages that keep blood vessels from reclogging after an artery-opening angioplasty procedure. The only ones available/used frequently these days are comprised of metal, usually coated with a material that oozes medicine. Doctors would like to find an alternative material, as the stents sometimes cause inflammation and other problems years down the road.

The Absorb stent is made of a degradable material that’s designed to stay intact and release medicine for a year, then break down over the next two years.

“It holds the artery open long enough for the artery to heal, then completely goes away,” said study leader Dr. Dean Kereiakes, of Christ Heart and Vascular Center in Cincinnati. “It can return the artery to its normal, natural structure and function.”

While some specialists would like to see a substantial upgrade between the Absorb and metal stents, others feel that being simply on par makes the dissolving option superior.

“The question is what does it take to get it on the market?” questioned another study leader, Dr. Gregg Stone of Columbia University Medical Center. “No one expected superiority in the first year. We expect the real benefits of this technology to be when it dissolves, over several years, in terms of lower complication rates.”

The Absorb stent is already being made available to patients in Europe.

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