The heart pumps approximately 2,000 gallons of blood each day. The human body is dependent on the heart to pump a sufficient supply to receive nutrients and oxygen. But for 13 million Americans, blood is not able to flow due to blocked vessels. Now a revolutionary new procedure is changing the way cardiologists treat patients with coronary heart disease.
Mac Ansari, M.D., co-director of structural and interventional cardiology at Texas Tech Physicians Center for Cardiovascular Health, said through this new technology, physicians could open a person’s vessels and save their life with a new dissolvable stent.
“The dissolvable stent will keep your vessel open and leaves it like the original vessel,” Ansari said.
Stents are devices that open an artery and restores blood flow through a narrowed or blocked artery. Traditionally, stents have been made of metal and remain forever in the artery. The new stents will gradually fade away.
Ansari explains in the past there were not many options for patients. Before stents, cardiologists used balloon therapy to balloon the vessel. But eventually the vessel would close again.
“Then came the stents that were made of metal, but the problem was the body would consider them a foreign body, and the vessels would close up again,” Ansari said. “The solution at the time was a drug-eluting stent or DES. The drug would calm down the wall along with help of medication. But again the metal stent would remain in the body for life.”
There are two types of patients that would need stents. The first is a person who suffers from a myocardia infarction or a heart attack. The stent is used to open up the closed vessel quickly to save the patient.
The other is to help patients with coronary artery disease (CAD). CAD changes the structure and function of the blood vessels. Those changes lead to a narrowing of the lumen or tunnels leading to a decreased blood flow to the heart causing symptoms.
“When medications or medical management is not helping these patients, stenting will help control the symptoms,” Ansari said.
Ansari said symptoms of CAD can include shortness of breath or a pressure or tightness in your chest.
“What also is innovative about the new stents is how they are placed on the patient,” Ansari said. “With these new dissolvable stents, we go through the arm or femoral artery in the patient’s leg. The cardiologists will go in with a catheter and push in dye to see where the disease is. After, a wire is passed through to place the stent. Because of this, the patient has a quicker and safer recovery rate. When I did my first stenting with two stents, I was able to say to the patient, ‘today you have two stents but in two years you will not.’ The patient could not believe it.”