Dissolving Heart Stents

Published 03/05 2013 04:05PM

Updated 03/05 2013 06:09PM

Do you ever struggle just to walk up a flight of stairs? Extreme weakness can be a signal that something is seriously wrong with your heart. Now a new device is helping people regain their energy and save lives.

 Lugging heavy groceries used to be exhausting for John Brinker. Heart patient John Briker says, "It would have worn me out to do this." 

John's energy level had crashed. An angiogram revealed a dangerous blockage in his coronary artery, severely reducing blood flow to his heart. Doctor Dean Kereiakes with the Christ Hospital in Cincinnati used a new mesh scaffold to prop open John's clogged artery. 

It releases medication into the blood vessel. Then, unlike a metal stent, it disappears after the artery heals. Medical Director Dr. Dean Kereiakes says, "It slowly dissolves like a lollipop in your mouth and goes away, leaving behind a normal appearing and normal functioning artery." 

John is one of the first patients in the US to receive a dissolving stent. No metal left behind means a lower risk of clotting and stent fractures.  

Brinker: "I'm back as good as ever, maybe better." Today, John's heart is healthy. He's full of energy and even enjoys a trip to the grocery store. The dissolving stent, called "absorb," is already approved for use in Europe and parts of Asia and Latin America. It's being tested right now in the US.

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