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December 7, 2006
First Mate Says Hello

Thanks for all of your e-mails and comments today in support of the First Mate. She wanted me to pass along her thanks to all of you as well. She's doing well, resting comfortably after the insertion of the stents, and she'll be out of the hospital tomorrow morning. Interestingly, I spotted an article on this very topic as I went through the various feeds. USA Today reports that drug-coated stents do not cause more heart attacks than the norm:

Drug-coated stents that prop open the arteries of about 3 million people in the U.S. don't increase the risk of heart attack or death when used as labeled but may put patients at risk for blood clots, health advisers said Thursday.

While the panel of experts broadly dismissed the more serious risks, they split on characterizing the degree of the increased clotting risk in comparison with older, bare-metal stents. They agreed only that more study of the newer devices is needed.

"There may be something there. From an evidence-based perspective, I can't say definitively one way or another," said panel member Dr. Norman Kato of the Cardiac Care Medical Group of Encino, Calif.

Another panel member, Dr. Steve Nissen of the Cleveland Clinic, said the clotting risk was real and that only its magnitude was in question.

A stent is a wire-mesh tube about the size of a ballpoint pen. The stent gets inserted during the angioplasty on the outside of a small inflated balloon. The plaque in the artery gets crushed by the wire-mesh stent when the balloon is inflated at the desired site. When they have the stent in place, they deflate the balloon and withdraw the probe.

The doctors chose the uncoated metal stents for the First Mate, so this doesn't relate to her procedure today. The increased clotting risk requires patients to take blood thinners for six months to a year after their insertion. That would bar her from having any surgeries during that period, so the doctors decided to use the unmedicated stents instead. I'm happy with that decision, as it only requires a four-week regimen of blood thinners and lowers her chances of a stroke or heart attack, even if just slightly.

I took the rest of the afternoon off from e-mail and the blog, and watched the Pittsburgh Steelers crush the Cleveland Browns, which is a tonic for the stress from today. (I might even watch a replay!) I'll catch up tomorrow, but in the meantime, have a lovely evening.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 7, 2006 10:00 PM

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