MONDAY, Aug. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Limiting the use of
expensive drug-eluting (coated) stents does not increase patients'
risk of heart attack or death, but it can save the U.S. health care
system hundreds of millions of dollars a year, a new study
A stent is a mesh tube used to keep an artery open after a
procedure to unblock clogged or narrowed arteries (angioplasty). A
drug-eluting stent is coated with medicine to prevent blood clots.
Research has shown that drug-eluting stents are better than
bare-metal stents at preventing re-narrowing of arteries, according
to background information in the study.
The current study examined the effects of selective use of
drug-eluting stents, which began in the United States in 2007. The
researchers analyzed data from 10,144 patients who underwent
angioplasty at 55 medical centers across the nation between 2004
The use of drug-eluting stents decreased from 92 percent of
angioplasty patients in 2004-2006 to 68 percent in 2007, but rates
of heart attack and death remained virtually the same. Procedures
to re-treat a blockage at the same coronary artery site increased
from 4.1 percent to 5.1 percent.
The researchers also found that selective use of drug-eluting
stents saves the nation's health care system about $400 million a
The study is published online Aug. 15 in the journal
"The bottom-line was that using drug-eluting stents in a relatively unselected way was only resulting in marginal improvement compared to more selective use," senior author Dr. David J. Cohen, director of cardiovascular research at Saint Luke's Mid America Heart and Vascular Institute in Kansas City, Mo., said in a journal news release.
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more