"That's where they have run into some real problems. Good communication and adherence to therapy is the number one thing they can do," Davidson said.
Positive lifestyle changes are also key, Garratt added.
"The really dangerous thing is for patients to leave the angioplasty laboratory feeling like they have had their problem fixed, and then it's back to the cheeseburgers," he said.
"I think that happens all the time. We can fix them up temporarily [with a stent], but if they go back to their old habits, new blockages will form, and they'll have the same risk of death and heart attack in the future."
Davidson concurred. He said the major cause of mortality after stent placement is a narrowing of another artery -- not the one that received the stent.
"Remember, the angioplasty is only treating the most severe lesion, it's not treating the 50 percent [closed] lesions that are very likely to go on and cause heart attacks," he said. "So, maybe with good lipid-lowering therapy, with healthy diets and exercise, these things could also be prevented."
Find out more about stents at the American Heart Association.
SOURCES: Kirk Garratt, M.D., associate director, division of cardiac intervention, and clinical director, interventional cardiovascular research, Heart Vascular Institute, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; Charles Davidson, M.D., director, cardiac catheterization laboratory, Northwestern Memori
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