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Everything You Need to Know About Drug-Eluting Stents (DES)

One of the options for opening up a narrow artery is a drug-eluting stent. This tiny tube placed within the artery helps keep it open. The big difference between drug-eluting stents and earlier, bare-metal stents? These newer devices have a special coating that gradually releases a drug to help keep the artery from closing. In general, they are better at preventing reclosing, but they are not without risks.


What Is a Drug-Eluting Stent?

Drug-eluting stents (DES) are fascinating little devices. To get a better understanding of what they are, let's first talk about what a stent is. A stent is a tiny tube made of metal mesh that can be inserted and then expanded in just the right place to help keep a narrowed artery open.
A drug-eluting stent is a special type of stent, designed to be an improvement on the earlier, bare-metal designs. Drug-eluting stents provide a physical, mechanical method of keeping narrowed arteries open while gradually releasing a drug that helps prevent the artery from renarrowing.
Usually, the stent is placed during a percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), which is basically a fancy term to describe angioplasty procedures that are performed by threading a small tube into a blood vessel (typically in the groin) to the heart to help open up a narrow artery in the heart. These procedures are usually done to treat coronary artery disease as an alternative to open-heart surgery, but they are sometimes used for narrow arteries in other areas of the body as well.
There are several approaches to help open up a narrow artery and help restore blood flow, but a major problem with all of them is that the treated artery tends to renarrow quickly. Placing a stent in the artery can help prevent renarrowing (known medically as restenosis).
While stents were a major advance in preventing restenosis, as many as one in five people with a bare-metal stent will still experience restenosis. That is why drug-eluting stents were developed. They have special coatings designed to slowly release a drug to prevent tissue growth, even further reducing the risk of stenosis (to about 1 in 10).
Ouch! 6 Types of Pain You Might Experience When Getting a Stent

Coronary Stent Information

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