Drug-eluting stents improved the outcomes of patients who developed blockages in veins that had been surgically grafted onto the heart, according to a study by researchers at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Compared with conventional bare metal stents, the drug-eluting stents-which slowly release medication to prevent the overgrowth of scar tissue inside the stent-significantly reduced the number of heart attacks and repeat procedures, both signs of restenosis (re-narrowing) within the stent.

The Study

Researchers analyzed data from 223 patients who underwent a stenting procedure to restore blood flow through clogged vein grafts. Of those patients, 139 were treated with a drug-eluting stent, and 84 were treated with a bare metal stent.

After nine months, 4% of the patients who were treated with the drug-eluting stent had had a hear t attack, compared with 20% of the patient s who had received a bare metal stent. Only 10% of the patients in the drug-eluting stent group required a repeat procedure, compared with370/o of those who got a bare metal stent.

"There was a fourfold reduction in the incidence of restenosis with the medicated stents, at least over the short term. That's very encouraging," says Dr. Raj Makkar, codirector of the Cardiovascular Intervention Center at Cedars Sinai Medical Center.

Overall, the combined rates of heart attack, repeat procedure and death were 10% in the drug-eluting stent group and 37% in the bare metal stent group.

The Cedars Sinai team will continue to follow the patients to study whether the drug-eluting stents offer long-term benefits.

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