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Latest DES Analysis Stresses Importance of Physicians Well-Trained in Implantation Technique and Patient Follow-Up

WASHINGTON, Sept. 2 /PRNewswire/ -- New data about the safety of drug- eluting stents (DES) translates into excellent news for thousands of patients with cardiovascular disease, according to The Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions (SCAI). These new findings also underscore the crucial importance of training physicians in the proper selection of patients, proper implantation technique, and in prescribing a strict regimen of medications that prevent blood clots in the first one to two years after DES implantation.

Findings announced this morning from the European Society of Cardiology Congress indicate that patients treated with DES benefit from a 50 percent reduction in restenosis, the re-clogging of arteries that has plagued bare metal stents, with no increased long-term risk. This is in direct contrast to last year's findings based on shorter-term observation of patients from the same registry, which led to widespread concern about whether the devices cause dangerous blood clots and may have dissuaded some patients and their doctors from treatment with DES.

Describing the findings as "reassuring news for patients with cardiovascular disease," SCAI President Bonnie H. Weiner, M.D., FSCAI, Professor of Medicine and Interim Chair of Cardiovascular Medicine at St. Vincent Hospital at Worcester Medical Center in Worcester, MA said, "Patients and physicians have been confused about stents, and we have been concerned that last year's headlines may have prevented some patients from getting the best therapy. This report is consistent with all other data on the benefits of DES and reaffirms the value of drug-eluting stents as a highly effective tool to open blocked arteries and stop regrowth of plaque and scar tissue in those vessels."

After tracking over 13,000 patients for up to 4 years after implantation of stents, Swedish Coronary Angiography and Angiolasty Registry (SCAAR) lead investigator Dr. Stefan James stated that "drug-eluting stents are not dangerous," but he pointed out that in a very small percentage of patients (0.5 percent per year) blood clots may form in these stents. This is in stark contrast to the 50 percent decrease in repeat artery narrowing in DES compared to in that in bare metal stents.

"The SCAAR data represent 'real-world' outcomes that show how Swedish doctors' technique improved over time because of more experience implanting drug-eluting stents resulting in improved outcomes for patients," says SCAI Secretary Steven R. Bailey, M.D., FSCAI, Interim Chief of the Division of Cardiology, Professor of Medicine and Radiology, and Janey Briscoe Distinguished Chair at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center at San Antonio. "Our patients can be reassured by these findings. If their interventional cardiologist chooses to implant a drug-eluting stent, they are receiving a safe and effective treatment."

To explain the new findings, Dr. Weiner points to indications that physicians' technique with the stents has improved and stent patients are now more likely to be on strict regimens of anti-clotting medications for a longer period. SCAI reemphasizes the need for high-quality education and training that will guide physicians in evaluating the benefits and risks of DES for each patient, depending on his or her age, gender, co-morbid conditions, and complexity of disease.

In addition, both physicians and patients need further education on the importance of a strict regimen of both clopidogrel and aspirin, two drugs that help prevent the formation of blood clots. SCAI, a leader in physician education, urges doctors to review the Clinical Alert the Society issued in early 2007 (, which stresses that physicians must take care to use DES in the right patients and the right blood vessels, and only if the patient is willing and able to comply to a long-term regimen of clopidogrel and aspirin.

"SCAI is committed to education and training that helps physicians assess which patients will benefit from drug-eluting stents, use the best implantation technique, and prescribe the right drugs after stent," says Dr. Weiner. "The new SCAAR data re-affirm all the other available results concerning DES, particularly from the clinical trials, showing significant patient benefit and no additional long-term risk."

Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions is a 3,700-member professional organization representing invasive and interventional cardiologists in 70 nations. SCAI's mission is to promote excellence in invasive and interventional cardiovascular medicine through physician education and representation, and advancement of quality standards to enhance patient care. SCAI's annual meeting has become the leading venue for education, discussion, and debate about the latest developments in this dynamic medical specialty.

SOURCE Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions
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