Strong Memorial is First in Rochester Area to Use Drug-eluting Stents

April 26, 2003

Strong Memorial Hospital’s cardiac catheterization team was the first in the Rochester area to use drug-eluting coronary stents, providing the best treatment to date for patients who require coronary angioplasty.

Members of the catheterization team treated a Rochester woman on April 25 using one of the new Johnson & Johnson Cypher stents, the day after it was announced the stents had received the Food and Drug Administration’s approval.

Compared to traditional stents, the Cyphers cut by nearly 60 percent the chance of a heart attack or need for additional treatment. The new drug-eluting devices slowly release the drug sirolimus, which deters scar tissue from forming at the stent site and narrowing the newly cleared coronary artery.

"The drug-coated stents are a major advance that will significantly benefit patients," says Fred Ling, M.D., director of the cardiac catheterization labs at Strong Memorial. "We’ve been eagerly awaiting their approval for months because it means many of our patients who require angioplasty will no longer need to worry about being retreated three to six months later for blockage at the same stent site."

Narrowing of coronary arteries occurs when plaque collects inside the artery and limits blood flow to the heart. During balloon angioplasty, a minute balloon is fitted into the narrowed section of coronary artery and inflated, widening the area and restoring blood flow. A stent is then inserted to support the artery wall.

Up to 30 percent of patients experience a significant re-narrowing of their arteries within six months after they receive a traditional stent, the result of trauma to the site during initial angioplasty. To re-open the narrowed section of artery, some patients must undergo angioplasty a second time. If the problem cannot be corrected by angioplasty, bypass surgery may be necessary.

The Cypher stents, and those like them that are expected to hit the market in the next one to two years, greatly lessen the chances of scarring and re-narrowing.

"The addition of drug-coated stents to our arsenal of treatment options benefits our patient population," Ling says. "We are pleased we can further help our patients stay as healthy as possible post-procedure."

Strong Memorial physicians say the drug-coated stents are not recommended for all patients who undergo angioplasty. There are currently only certain stent sizes available and the stent has not yet been proven in all conditions. The new stents also are not presently being used to treat conventional stents that have been narrowed by scar tissue. In that situation, local radiation therapy which has demonstrated a proven benefit is the treatment of choice.

For further information, please call the Strong Memorial Hospital cardiac catheterization laboratories at (585) 275-6161.

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Karin Christensen
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