More than one million heart stents are placed in clogged coronary arteries each year. They are supposed to improve blood flow to heart muscles and reduce symptoms such as chest pain. This procedure has become more common than invasive coronary artery bypass surgery. Not all patients benefit from stents, however and some need to be readmitted to the hospital within a month of their procedure.
A study of 40,000 New York State patients who underwent stent placement found that nearly one in six landed back in the hospital because of chest pain or other symptoms. The investigators suggest that better discharge preparation along with follow-up from the hospital after discharge could cut this number. Patients ought to go home with all the medications they will need and clear instructions on how to use them and what warning signs to watch for. That could help cut re-admissions, which are expensive for the hospital and traumatic for the patient.
[JACC: Cardiovascular Interventions, December 2011]