WEDNESDAY, Nov. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Balloons coated with a drug used to open blocked stents in heart arteries restore blood flow and also reduce bleeding in some high-risk patients, new research shows.
Bare-metal stents, implanted to keep a blood vessel in the heart open during angioplasty, can narrow over time as scar tissue develops, which restricts blood flow and requires another procedure to widen the vessel, the researchers say. They were to present their findings Wednesday at the American Heart Association's annual meeting in Orlando, Fla.
"Drug-eluting [emitting] balloons is, in my opinion, the therapy of choice in case of bare-metal stent restenosis and should be also considered in treating patients with stenosis of native coronary arteries, especially with a high risk of bleeding," said the lead researcher of both studies, Dr. Mariusz Zadura, a senior cardiologist at the Heart and Diabetes Center of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in Karlsburg, Germany.
"Drug-eluting balloons are as effective in the daily practice in real life conditions in treating bare metal stent restenosis," he added.
In the procedure, a catheter with a drug-coated balloon is passed through the narrowed stent to restore blood flow. The procedure leaves behind the drug, which acts to prevent the stent from renarrowing.
For the first study, Zadura's team studied the responses of 84 patients who had narrowed bare metal stents reopened. The balloons used in the procedure were coated with the drug paclitaxel, a cancer drug also used to prevent blocking of arteries.
In all, 91 stented arteries were treated. After six to nine months, the balloon kept 85 of the arteries open.
New blockages occurred in six stented arteries, but only three patients needed an additional procedure, the researchers noted.
In the second study, the team followed 63 patients who were at high risk of bl
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