Drug-Eluting Stents

Topic Overview

Drug-eluting stents are coated with medicine to prevent a coronary artery from narrowing again after angioplasty.

Stents are small, wire-mesh tubes that are inserted during angioplasty into a blocked section of the coronary artery to open the artery and improve blood flow. See a picture of a stent. Drug-eluting stents are used more often than bare-metal stents.

All stents have a risk that scar tissue will form and narrow the artery again. This scar tissue can block blood flow. But drug-eluting stents are coated with drugs that prevent scar tissue from growing into the artery. Drug-eluting stents may lower the chance that you will need a second procedure (angioplasty or surgery) to open the artery again.

If you have angioplasty, your doctor may use a bare metal stent or a drug-eluting stent. To decide which type of stent to use, your doctor will consider your overall health and your risk of a heart attack. He or she will also consider whether you can and want to take blood-thinning medicines for at least one year. In some cases, a second catheterization or coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG) may be needed at a later time. When recommending treatment for you, your doctor will also consider your overall health and how well you would be able to handle a second surgery.

Credits

Author Robin Parks, MS
Editor Kathleen M. Ariss, MS
Associate Editor Pat Truman, MATC
Primary Medical Reviewer Caroline S. Rhoads, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer John A. McPherson, MD, FACC, FSCAI - Cardiology
Last Updated May 5, 2009

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