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Study Finds Benefits With Drug-Coated Stents
Date:10/3/2007

Better outcomes for high-risk patients

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Drug-coated stents offered a clear advantage over the bare-metal kind for high-risk patients with blocked coronary arteries, a large Canadian study found.

The rate of restenosis -- having the artery become blocked again after stent implant -- was "significantly lower" over the following two years for those getting drug-coated stents, 7.4 percent versus 10.7 percent. The three-year death rate was 5.5 percent in the coated-stent group, compared to 7.8 percent in the bare-metal group.

"We found the results in low-risk patients were almost identical [between the two types of stents], so we would reserve coated stents for high-risk cases," said study lead author Dr. Jack V. Tu, a senior scientist at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences in Toronto.

The study findings also provide some comfort about worries that a high rate of restenosis increases the risk of heart attacks in those getting coated stents. The two-year heart attack rate was similar in the two groups, 5.2 percent for bare-metal stents and 5.7 percent for coated stents.

"These were traditional heart attacks rather than being caused by restenosis, so it provides a lot of reassurance," Tu said.

The findings are published in the Oct. 4 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

The dominant drug-eluting stent used in the trial was the Taxus, coated with the drug paclitaxel and marketed by Boston Scientific, Tu said. It was used in 80 of those getting a coated stent, with about 17 percent getting the Cypher, which is coated with sirolimus and marketed by Cordis.

Recent studies have found the risk of restenosis is lower with the Cypher stent. Tu said his group has not yet looked for a product-to-product comparison.

The study defined high risk as the presence of two of three risk factors for restenosis -- diabetes, havin
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