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FDA to recheck vascular stents

Oct 21, 2006 | UPI The most common types of stents inserted into arteries may actually cause fatal blood clots rather than prevent blockages, U.S. medical research suggests.

With growing evidence an overuse of stents may lead to thousands of heart attacks and deaths each year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has scheduled hearings in December to consider whether to issue new stent-safety guidelines.

It is not clear if the deaths happen because stents are used in relatively mild cases when drugs should be prescribed instead, or because patients receive drug-coated versions when simpler, cheaper bare-metal devices might work just as well, The New York Times says.

Stents often save lives in the short term by preventing impending heart attacks. But the tubes have not proved they aid long-term survival compared with other forms of treatment.

The new evidence adds to a long-simmering debate over whether doctors have been too quick to prescribe stenting instead of drugs or bypass surgery.

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