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 March 24, 2005
Drug-Coated Heart Stents Prove Effective
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More patients should be receiving drug-coated heart stents, which are devices used to prop open arteries once they've been cleared of blockages, according to studies released at the American College of Cardiology meeting.

Newer types of these metal mesh cylinders are covered with drugs that counter the natural tendency of the surgically cleared arteries to close up again. Stents have become the most frequently used cardiology device following a vessel-clearing procedure known as angioplasty, The New York Times reports. The procedure involves use of a balloon-tipped catheter that's inflated to clear blockages.

At least three new studies unveiled at the Orlando, Fla., cardiology meeting show drug-coated stents are proving superior to their older, bare metal counterparts, the newspaper said.

The only exception may be when the drug-coated stents are overlapped to treat a rather long stretch of vessel, the newspaper said. In this case, bare metal stents may actually prove superior, the report said, noting that research in this area is ongoing.

In other news from the meeting, Italian researchers announced that by doubling the dose of the anti-clotting drug Clopidogrel before angioplasty was performed, a patient's risk of heart attack was reduced by 48 percent. The patient's risks of death and additional surgery also were lowered significantly, the researchers said. Their findings were also published in Circulation, Journal of the American Heart Association.


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