It’s a good time of year to focus on our hearts, not just because it’s Valentine’s Day, but because it’s American Heart Month. Coronary heart disease, where plaque clogs your major blood vessels, is the most common type of heart disease affecting more than 18 million Americans. Stents have become a lifesaver for the millions impacted by coronary heart disease, and now, a new stent, with a powerful name, is helping to save even the hardest to treat patients.
One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease, but this year, more than two million people will be saved by stents.
Salil Patel, MD, FACC, a cardiologist at Baptist Heart Specialists in Jacksonville, Florida says, “There are a lot of things, nowadays, that we can fix that we didn’t do before.”
Stents are a mesh tube inserted through the wrist or groin by a catheter. The tube creates a scaffold to open blockages in narrow arteries, but there are some larger vessels that previous stents could not be used in.
“Ten or 15 years ago, patients would’ve had no options. In fact, some of these patients we refer to hospice,” Dr. Patel explained.
Dr. Patel also says that a new stent, called the “Synergy Megatron”, can do what other stents can’t. The stent is built specifically for larger coronary arteries that are closer to the aorta.
“In the arteries where there’s a lot of calcium, sometimes it’s hard to expand the artery fully and get those stents to expand,” says Dr. Patel.
Made of platinum aluminum chromium alloy, the “Synergy Megatron” is stronger and can be seen more clearly on imaging, aiding doctors to place it more precisely.
Dr. Patel explains, “It can be expanded to six million meters, which is pretty large. Because we have some of this technology and newer techniques, we’re able to do some of these procedures, whereas, in the past, we wouldn’t even try it.”
Stents are permanent and should last forever. Plaque buildup can return to the area inside the stent, but that happens in just 10 percent of patients. Dr. Patel says with each new stent and technology created; the reoccurrence rate goes down.