PETER BENESH: Investor’s Business Daily
The race is on among medical device makers to grab bigger pieces of a shrinking market for cardiovascular stents (stints).
The latest entrant is Medtronic MDT, with Abbott Labs ABT coming up fast on incumbents Boston Scientific BSX and the Cordis unit of Johnson & Johnson JNJ.
But first, that shrinking market.
Much of it can be traced to concerns over the safety of drug-eluting stents, which administer drugs to slow healing and thus prevent scar tissue from re-blocking the artery.
More than 6 million people worldwide have received drug-eluting stents, 3 million in the U.S.
In December, the Food and Drug Administration held hearings on the safety of the stents.
The agency had said it was “aware of recent data suggesting a small but significant increase in the rate of death and myocardial infarction (heart attack) possibly due to stent thrombosis (a blood clot in the stent) in patients.” Continue reading
By BARNABY J. FEDER
After more than a decade-long decline, is heart bypass surgery poised for a comeback?
Dr. Mark W. Connolly operated on a patient at St. Michaelâ€™s Medical Center in Newark.
Some doctors say it may be time to give bypass operations a second look. They include even some cardiologists who specialize in the far more popular alternative â€” using stents to keep coronary arteries open.
No one is predicting a sudden surge back to bypass, which is still a far more invasive and initially riskier way to treat plaque-clogged heart arteries, a condition that afflicts millions of Americans.
But in light of new safety concerns over the long-term risks of stents, as well as accumulating data indicating that the sickest heart patients may live longer if they receive bypass surgery instead, some well-known stent specialists say the pendulum may have swung too far away from bypass surgery.
â€œWe as cardiologists have probably pressed forward on stent technology a little faster than we should have,â€ said Dr. Kirk Garratt, the director of research into stents and related heart therapies at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, one of the nationâ€™s leading stenting centers.
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To view a video of an open heart procedure click here.
Despite all the advances in cardiology, Americans are still having heart attacks at the rate of more than one million each year. Usually, these are caused by a blockage (most often a blood clot) that dramatically diminishes blood flow to a section of the heart, sometimes cutting it off completely. Without blood and oxygen, heart tissue quickly dies. Without immediate medical intervention, sadly, some patients die, too.
While heart attacks can be fatal, modern medicine has developed effective tools that often save lives. People having a heart attack are currently treated with an immediate combination of clot-dissolving drug therapy, balloon angioplasty (to open the blocked artery) and stenting (to ensure the artery remains open). It would seem obvious that if unblocking an artery saves the life of a person having a heart attack, doing so in individuals with clogged (or nearly clogged) arteries whose lives are not currently hanging in balance should be helpful in preventing a heart attack (or having another one). However, an important new study finds otherwise — and the president of the American Heart Association has said… Continue reading