If you know anyone with heart disease, this post is for you. A new stent with a nanothin surface application shows promise in opening and healing blocked heart arteries without the life-threatening dangers of drug-eluting stents, according to a study being presented at the 20th annual International Symposium on Endovascular Therapy (ISET, online at iset.org), in Hollywood, Florida.
The stent coating is 25,000 times thinner than a human hair. Called Polyzene-F, the treatment is not a drug but a medically inert chemical compound that "hides" the stent from the body, so the body doesn't turn on it. Translation: this new stent, if it works as the study claims it does, will allow heart arteries to heal quickly, without the tissue scarring or clotting that can result when either bare metal or drug-eluting stents are used. From the press release:
Doctors have long used stents to open up plaque-clogged arteries in the heart and elsewhere in the body, but the vessels often reclog due to the body's reaction to the stent as a foreign object, which creates a scarring process known as restenosis. Drug-eluting stents were devised as an answer to restenosis, but research has shown the drug can interfere with the blood vessel's healing process. This increases the risk of blood clots forming (thrombosis) and causing a heart attack. Although studies suggest thrombosis occurs in less than 1 percent of patients who receive drug-eluting stents, it is fatal in nearly half of patients who develop the problem.
"Our preliminary data show that the inside of the blood vessel with this polymer-coated stent heals almost perfectly within 30 days, whereas with a drug-eluting stent, the blood vessel healing takes many months, if it ever happens," said Corrado Tamburino, M.D., Ph.D., principal investigator of the study and professor of cardiology at Ferrarotto Hospital at the University of Catania, Italy. "Our preliminary research suggests that this polymer-coated stent is a very promising solution to restenosis and thrombosis."
This could be a big, big deal in terms of consumer health. Angioplasty is a lifesaver for tens of thousands of people each year, but the procedure has been under much scrutiny the past year, with studies revealing the rare but deadly problems associated with the widely used drug-eluting variety. If this new stent technology solves the twin problems of restenosis and thrombosis, then it will mean lives saved ... and a lot of people who've had angioplasty procedures, will no longer have to stay on blood thinning drugs like Plavix for extended periods of time. I hope this news blurb out of Florida is as good as it sounds.