Heart Stents Work for Both Sexes

Thursday, October 12th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

CHICAGO (AP) — Women who have tiny coils called heart stents inserted to prop open clogged arteries face higher initial risks than men do but fare just as well a year after the operation, researchers say.

The findings bolster previous research and were published with a Mayo Clinic review of 30 studies that says heart stents have improved the safety of treatments for heart disease.

An accompanying editorial in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association said that while stents may carry some risks, they are the most important non-drug advance in heart treatment since balloon angioplasty was introduced nearly two decades ago.

Stents are used in about 1 million people yearly worldwide and in about 80 percent of U.S. balloon angioplasties, an operation in which tiny balloons are inflated inside clogged arteries to reopen them.

Stents serve as a kind of scaffold to permanently keep arteries clear and may be used with or in place of angioplasty. They were first used in humans more than 10 years ago and have grown in popularity ever since.

Dr. Julinda Mehilli of Deutsches Herzzentrum in Munich, Germany, led a study of 1,001 women and 3,263 men treated with stents between 1992 and 1998.

Women faced more than twice the risk of death or nonfatal heart attack in the month after the operation. But after a year, the death and heart attack rate was about 6 percent for both sexes.

The women patients were older and more likely to have high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, all heart-disease risk factors.

The researchers said new anti-clotting drugs could reduce women's early risk.


On the Net:

Journal of the American Medical Association: http://jama.ama-assn.org

American Heart Association: http://www.americanheart.org/Heart—and—Stroke—A—Z—Guide/stent.html