Patients with drug-eluting stents placed in the heart to avoid heart attacks and blocked arteries now face a new problem. It has been found that the placement of the drug-eluting stent in the heart to avoid heart attacks and clogged arteries is doing the very thing it was designed not to do.
The stent was designed in the 1980s to push open clogged arteries. It was placed in a procedure called angioplasty. The stents worked only for a short time as the artery would respond by producing more cells in response to repairing a wound and again would clog the artery.
In 2003 the FDA approved the drug-eluting stent. This stent was designed to prevent cell growth around the stent therefore keeping the artery open. However, recently it has been found that the drug-eluting stents are so efficient at preventing the excess cell growth that the stents end up being a piece of metal sticking out in the artery. The stent then becomes the enemy as it creates the perfect place for a blood clot to form. The outcome could lead to fatal heart attacks.
Doctors implant drug-eluting stents in approximately one million patients a year. Studies estimate that 1 in 500 patients a year could result in blood clots from the drug-eluting stent, leading to approximately 2,000 blood clots a year that could result in death.
Many cardiologists are now cutting back on using the stents. However, there is no safe way to remove the drug-eluting stents therefore the next question is: what is going to be done?
It will be interesting to find out if the FDA removes the drug-eluting stent from the market? Will these findings open lawsuits against the maker of the drug-eluting stents?