Keys to Drug Coated Heart Stents: June 8, 2012

When heart stents came on the scene they expanded on the effectiveness of angioplasty procedures used to open blocked arteries.

“A stent was developed to minimize the change of a blockage coming back at the site of an angioplasty,” says Dr. Robert Grohowski, an interventional cardiologist with Lee Memorial Health System.

With a traditional angioplasty, the risk of a block recurring at the same site could be as high as 30-40%. Using a stent bettered the odds.

“With a stent to keep the blockage open and the plaque out of the way the chance of blockage coming back is reduce to somewhere in the range of 10 to 15% with our older stents,” says Dr. Grohowski.

The old school stents were made of a bare metal material. Today patients have new options. The next generation of stents are called drug coated or drug eluting stents.

“They’re coated with a material and a medication that keeps the body from forming excess scar tissue where the stent is and with these type of stents our risk of blockage coming back is now down to about five percent,” says Dr. Grohowski.

Medicated stents require doctors to prescribe anti-clotting drugs.

“For the newer drug coated stents we need to use blood thinners at least a year and I actually use it for several years after one of those stents is placed,” says Dr. Grohowski.

As technology advance, researchers are constantly looking for safer, better ways to mend broken hearts.