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Drug-coated heart stents under scrutiny, after study

Barcelona: Experts from Spain are not too comfortable with the outcome of drug coated heart stents, once thought to be a saving grace//, could carry a risk of formation of fatal blood clots. The drug-coated stents were brought into the market in 2000 as an upgraded version of bare-metal stents.

It is estimated that almost 6 million people worldwide have the drug-lined versions of the stents, which are designed to ensure the arteries are maintained without blocks, after the deposits have been cleared. They have bee regarded as a long-term health investment in preventing future heart attacks and surgeries.

A Swiss-Dutch study monitored 8,146 patients, which revealed that those sporting drug-coated stents were susceptible to the risk of thrombosis, which can lead to death in occasional cases. It was observed that the underlying difference between bare stents and drug coated stents, allowed the natural growth of tissues over the stent, whereas in the latter, the drugs inhibited the growth. This is good as well as bad news.

With bare stents, there were all chances for a thick growth of cells that could prove harmful. But it is desirable to have a thin lining of tissues, which the improvised stents lined with drugs do not afford. The exposed metal on this drug-coated stents could act as a potential clot magnet.

Dr. Salim Yusef, professor of medicine and director of cardiology at McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada said "It's time to stop and re-evaluate. Having done six million of these procedures, isn't it a terrible indictment on us that we don't have long-term safety data on these?"

Though these findings have cast aspersions on the safety of these stents, it might be while before the drug-coated stents really find themselves out of demand.


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