Harvard Women's Health Watch

Stents work well in women

Cardiac stents—which are used to prop open blocked arteries to the heart and restore blood flow—are safe and effective in women, according to an analysis presented at the European Society of Cardiology conference and released in The Lancet in September. Up to now, it's been hard to assess the benefits of stents in women, because so few women have been included in clinical trials of these devices. So researchers pooled data from 26 different randomized studies (the most rigorous type of clinical trial), which included 11,557 women. They found that three-year rates of heart attack or death were low, occurring in 13% of women who received bare-metal stents, 11% of women who got early-generation drug-coated stents, and 9% of those who got a newer-generation drug-coated stent. The newest stents appeared to be safest and most effective for women. The researchers also found that the use of these stents significantly reduced the need for additional procedures to restore blood flow.

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