Dissolvable heart artery stents appear safe in study

By Denise Mann, HealthDay Reporter
Dissolvable heart artery stents appear safe in study
Biodegradable stents might lower risk of heart attack, Japanese researchers suggest.

(HealthDay) -- New long-term research now suggests that fully biodegradable stents are safe to use in heart arteries.

Reporting in the April 16 issue of Circulation, said a 10-year study has shown the biodegradable Igaki-Tamai stent, made of a cornstarch-based material, dissolves into the , leaving no permanent foreign material in an artery and reducing the occurrence of an in-stent blood clot.

According to the study, from all causes was 87 percent and rates of major heart-related complications were similar to those seen with .

Stents, the tiny mesh tubes inserted into heart arteries to keep open and allow blood to flow to the heart, are far from fail-safe. New can -- and do -- occur. So scientists have been trying to develop new stents, including ones coated with blood-thinning medications. Metal stents, sometimes coated with drugs, remain in the body where they can reclog.

The Igaki-Tamai stent, developed by Kyoto Medical Planning Co., is used in nine European Union countries and Turkey to treat , or blocked arteries in the legs. It is not used to treat blocked in any country.

Study author Dr. Kunihiko Kosuga, director of cardiology at Shiga Medical Center for Adults in Moriyama City, predicted in a journal news release that "fully biodegradable stents may hold an important position as the next generation of coronary devices."

In the study, 50 people received 84 Igaki-Tamai stents between September 1998 and April 2000. Researchers report that the survival rate from heart-related death was 98 percent. Half of the individuals experienced major heart-related complications, which is in line with studies of metal stents. The stent was totally absorbed in three years.

"There is a risk of heart attack if a stent does not get incorporated into the blood vessel wall," explained Dr. Barry Kaplan, vice chairman of cardiology at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y., and Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y. Once the metal stent is absorbed, the risk theoretically should decrease or go away. The problem is that metal stents are not always absorbed. In theory, biodegradable stents should be.

"The panacea would be a drug-eluding biodegradable stent where the drug is released into the before the stent gets absorbed," he said. "This would lower the re-stenosis or re-blockage rate, yet eliminate risk of heart attacks or blood clot," Kaplan said. "From a technical standpoint, this particular stent is providing a similar risk to a bare-metal stent."

The new study is "helping us feeling more comfortable that this is a good line of research to pursue and that there is no special concern about hidden dark sides with this biodegradable stent," added Dr. Kirk Garratt, clinical director of interventional cardiovascular research at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

More information: What is a stent? Learn more from the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Related Stories

A new stent design may put patients at risk

Nov 17, 2011

Some stents that keep blood vessels open to treat heart disease are poorly designed to resist shortening, according to publications in the Journal of Interventional Cardiology. A case report published in the journal by Dr. ...

Drug-coated stents less risky for heart bypass patients

Jan 22, 2009

Coronary bypass surgery may carry less risk of serious complications if stents coated with a drug that suppresses cell growth are used in the procedure rather than bare-metal stents, UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers ...

Recommended for you

Vitamin D does not stop heart attack or stroke

23 hours ago

(Medical Xpress)—Taking vitamin D tablets cannot ward off heart attacks or stroke according to a new study from researchers at the University of East Anglia (UEA) published in the American Journal of Cl ...

New guidance on antithrombotic use in AF patients with ACS

Aug 26, 2014

A new European joint consensus document on the use of antithrombotic drugs, including the non-vitamin K antagonist oral anticoagulants (NOACs), in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) presenting with an acute coronary syndrome ...

User comments