Long-term safety of drug-coated stents doubted

Posted on Mar 20, 2010 in Uncategorized

Study: Patients who got devices after heart attack had higher death rate

updated 11:07 a.m. ET, Tues., March. 16, 2010

ATLANTA – New research shows more patients who got drug-coated stents right after suffering a heart attack later died from heart-related problems than those who received older, cheaper bare-metal stents.

Seven years after the first drug-coated stent was approved in the United States, cardiologists gathering in Atlanta for the American College of Cardiology meeting debated the issue, saying more research is needed to understand the long-term effects.

Danish researchers conducted a trial examining the effectiveness and risks of the two types of stents implanted right after heart attack.

They found that after three years, patients who got bare-metal stents were more likely to have problems, like requiring more intervention for blockages, while patients with the drug-coated variety were more likely to die from heart-related problems.

“The key message here is that we have shown that despite a finding of lower major adverse cardiac events, cardiac mortality was significantly higher in the drug-eluting stent group,” said Dr. Peter Clemmensen of Copenhagen University Hospital.

Stents are tiny tubular devices used to prop open diseased heart arteries and have been used widely for almost 20 years. Newer and more expensive versions of the devices are coated with anti-clotting drugs that keep treated arteries from reclogging.

When Johnson & Johnson released the first drug-coated stent in April 2003, it quickly became a big seller. The stent was considered to be revolutionary, and other medical device manufacturers raced to get their own versions on the market.

J&J, Medtronic Inc, Boston Scientific Corp and Abbott Laboratories Inc are the top manufacturers of stents and paid for the study by the Danish researchers.

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