Your Questions About Stents -- Answered

Earlier this week, a landmark study found that stents -- hollow tubes surgically implanted into blocked arteries to prop them open -- may be no more effective at preventing heart attacks and other cardiac events than drug therapy alone. The findings have profound implications for the 800,000 Americans who receive stents each year.

On "World News," we asked for your questions about stents. Below, ABC News medical editor Dr. Tim Johnson responds to some of the questions you sent.

Question:

I had a heart attack 14 months ago, but my stent wasn't put in until the next day at different hospital, as the first hospital wasn't able to do it. I have asked many people if my stent can be removed without any danger. What if I need a bypass in the future? Will that stent be in the way, possibly? Should I remove it if possible? Help me sleep tonight please…

Answer:

Yes, your stent can be removed, but there is really no reason to do so. Already having a stent in place is not dangerous, and if you do indeed need bypass surgery in the future, it can certainly be dealt with safely at that time. You can sleep easy.

Question:

I am 53 years old and had my first and only heart attack three years ago. I was diagnosed with coronary artery disease. I had two stents installed. I am on 20mg Lipitor and have changed my diet to organic and as fat-free as possible. I also take multiple supplements, including fish oil, niacin, aspirin, folic acid and COQ10. Is this disease reversible? My doctor has prescribed the Lipitor, low fat diet and exercise. Are there other treatments to help prevent future attacks and prolong the inevitable?

Answer:

Like yourself, patients in this particular study were taking cholesterol-lowering drugs like Lipitor and aspirin, to prevent blood clots and blockages. They also took drugs to lower their blood pressure; your doctor would know if that might be appropriate for you as well. And keep up with the diet and exercise -- both safe and excellent ways to keep your heart disease in check!

Question:

I just had an appointment with a cardiologist, and he has suggested an angiogram with possible stent. I have had the nuclear treadmill test, and he feels that after looking at the pictures there is part of my heart which is not getting good blood flow. He said the only way to tell if it is from the main artery or a smaller vein is the test. I am 72 years old and have a history of high cholesterol. I feel that I am basically in good health and young for my years. However, my two brothers have had heart attacks, and I obviously have that gene. My symptoms are exercise-induced discomfort, which goes away after a while. After looking at the news, I am wondering if it is logical to do something so invasive.

Answer:

It sounds like your case might be just the type that this particular study has implications for. Depending on the details of your health and history, it may be that stenting is not necessary. Be sure, though, to discuss this new finding with your doctor before making any decisions.

Question:

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