Drug-releasing stents improve angioplasty outcome

NEW YORK Wed Apr 4, 2007 6:13pm EDT

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NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - In patients with heart disease, small metal tubes called "stents" are often inserted into the coronary arteries during angioplasty to keep the vessels open and prevent a future heart attack.

Now, new research shows that stents that release anti-blockage drugs, so-called "drug-eluting stents," work better than the older "bare-metal stents" in women. In fact, with the use of the drug-eluting stents, women can achieve outcomes that are as good as those seen in men.

Stents are often implanted during coronary angioplasty, a procedure in which a thin tube is inserted into the arteries of the heart to open up vessels clogged by plaque build-up.

"Unlike prior experiences, women now have excellent (angioplasty) outcomes, comparable to men, despite older age, (a greater likelihood of other diseases), and smaller coronary vessels," Dr. J. Dawn Abbott from Rhode Island Hospital, Providence, told Reuters Health.

In a study reported in the American Journal of Cardiology, Abbott and associates examined the association of gender on angioplasty outcomes in more than 3,000 men and women treated around the time that doctors began to stop using bare-metal stents in favor of drug-eluting stents.

With the exception of some minor complications at the skin site where the instruments were inserted, women had outcomes comparable to those of men. This included both immediate outcomes, such as the risk of heart attack while still in the hospital, as well as long-term outcomes, such as the likelihood that the stent would become blocked months later.

It is important to note that all patients were started on appropriate drug therapy before discharge, Abbott said. Angioplasty with stent placement "should always be performed in conjunction with the best (drug) therapy possible."

SOURCE: American Journal of Cardiology, March 1, 2007.

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