Harvard Heart Letter

The evolution of artery-opening stents

Today's stents are better than ever and continue to be refined.

During an angioplasty, a procedure to open heart arteries clogged with cholesterol-filled plaque, doctors routinely deploy tiny wire-mesh tubes called stents to prop open the newly opened vessels. After two decades of use, stents have undergone several improvements, making them safer and more effective.

"We're come a long way since the first-generation stents," says Dr. C. Michael Gibson, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and an interventional cardiologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

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