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]

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  1. gail

    My husband had a heart attack in 2005, he was taken by ambulance to a hospital 85 miles away and they installed a stent. Three days later he came home and the next morning (the stent failed) and he had another heart attack and back to the hospital he went where the doctor said it was VERY unusual for a stent to fail so the same doctor installed another stent.
    Hubby came home in 3 days and the next morning the same thing. Back to the hospital where the same idiot doctor insisted that stents “HAD” to work and installed another two of them. This time he didn’t even leave the hospital, the day I was to pick him up and take him home he had another attack. FINALLY another doctor recommended a coronary heart bypass (he only needed one), and he has been hospital free ever since then. I fully understand why some patients sue their doctors, this episode was ridiculous but the doctor would not listen. (We did not attempt to sue but we should have!)

  2. Korean Vet

    Got three stents at Richmond VA hospital 3 yrs ago. Was put on warfarin, and while had regular visits to hospital, got finger pricked for warfarin blood level test.
    But time came when no other appts existed and Warfarin clinic demanded I drive 120 miles to have my finger pricked. They refused mileage vouchers, refused to issue any home monitoring device; when I offered to buy one myself, they refused any phone report from a non-VA person. So they just cut me off the warfarin.
    Have been off for three months and can’t tell the difference (except now can go to dentist). I got little or no counseling or advice or instructions on stents except what I looked up on internet afterward. Can not tell the difference except for shortness of breath–am otherwise still doing same things at age 82, including own auto maintenance, cutting and splitting own firewood, and doing own electric, plumbing, and structure repair (except do not climb ladders more than gutter height).
    I now have serious doubts that I ever needed stents, as what I read says body builds bypasses for clogged arteries by itself, without having to go on this medication. Want to hear from others who have had stents shoved into them–perhaps needlessly.

  3. A.G.

    What is best for these patients is for the hospital to send them home with full instructions on how to improve their lifestyle so that a stent would not have been necessary in the first place. That would include a heart healthy diet (I’m not referring to the AHA diet), proper exercise and
    relaxation techniques. But the medical establishment isn’t interested
    in prevention, are they?

  4. Vicky H.

    These people would benefit from going through a Cardiac Rehab program…Their physicians are remiss in not referring them as soon as possible….

  5. STEVE

    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 should be standard practice for any hospital discharge. You would think that it would not be necessary for a study to point that out and not just for stents. So now you may need to write a book on what mistakes hospitals make as well as the one you wrote about doctors.

  6. spike

    Logically, isn’t it likely that cause can be found in unsterilized things including stents and unwashed hands, even with gloves, hands that touch infected things ?

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