New Drug-Coated Stent May Offer Alternative
Second Drug-Coated Stent on Market Reduces Need for Repeat Heart Operations
Jan. 14, 2004 -- A new version of a drug-coated stent may help
reduce the need for repeat heart operations to open up clogged heart
The first drug-coated stent, containing the drug sirolimus, was
approved in the U.S. in 2003 for treating heart disease, and now a second
stent, coated with a different drug, may be able to produce similar results,
according to a study in this week's New England Journal of Medicine.
Stents are tiny metal, mesh-like structures that are surgically
implanted within an artery to prop open clogged arteries and restore blood
flow. But a common problem with the devices is that the arteries frequently
become re-clogged due to buildup of scar tissue at the site or other
Drug-coated stents slowly release drugs designed to slow or
prevent the growth of scar tissue and reduce the risk of renarrowing of the
arteries. Currently, they are being used to treat heart disease.
Testing the Second Drug-Coated Stent
The new stent is coated with a drug called paclitaxel, which is
commonly used in cancer treatment to slow the growth of cancer cells.
In the study, researchers compared the drug-coated stent to
regular stents in more than 1,300 adults who were about to receive a stent to
correct previously untreated narrowing of the heart arteries. About half were
randomly assigned to receive the paclitaxel-coated stent, and the others
received a regular bare-metal stent.
After nine months of follow-up, the results showed that the
drug-coated stents significantly reduced the need for repeat operations to
correct renarrowing of the heart arteries. For example, a secondary operation
to correct renarrowing of the same area of the arteries was required in only 3%
of those with the paclitaxel-coated stent vs. 11.3% of those with the regular
In addition, tests revealed evidence of renarrowing of the
arteries in 7.9% of those with the paclitaxel-coated stents vs. 26.6% of those
with the plain stents.
The risk of heart-related death or heart attack was similar in
Researchers say the results suggest that future studies should
compare the two types of drug-coated stents to evaluate their safety and
In an editorial that accompanies the study, Thomas Lee, MD, of
Harvard Medical School, notes that although drug-coated stents might share a
similar delivery technology, "their embedded drugs will ultimately
determine their efficacy."