Harvard Heart Letter

The evolution of artery-opening stents

The tiny wire-mesh tubes called stents that prop open arteries cleared during an angioplasty have undergone a series of improvements since they were first developed 30 years ago. Early bare-metal stents were prone to clogging up, a problem known as restenosis. Drug-eluting stents prevented that problem but led to another: blood clot formation. Today’s third-generation stents address that issue but still require the use of blood-thinning drugs after a stent placement. Researchers are working on bioabsorbable stents that would gradually disappear and not require as much use of blood thinners. 
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