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Experts Offer Clarity on Confusion Surrounding Stents
Date:2/22/2008

tant thing that patients need to be aware of is that the anti-platelet therapy that is prescribed them by their physician needs to be adhered to," Davidson said. All too often, he said, patients either stop taking the anti-clotting drugs on their own or on the advice of a doctor who may not realize the patient has recently received a stent.

"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."

More information

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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