Absorb™ Stent: New Dissolvable Stent Shows Promise

Some 600,000 Americans undergo a cardiac stent procedure each year. For people having a heart attack or at risk for a heart event, stents (metal mesh devices inserted during a cardiac angioplasty procedure to open or maintain the artery pathways) can be life-saving, as they keep blood flowing to the heart.  Stents are used where a patient’s coronary arteries are fully or partially blocked due to build up of fatty deposits called plaque. Traditionally, stents are permanent installations. But recently, the MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute became the first in the Baltimore-Washington area to offer the Absorb™ Stent, a bioresorbable stent.

How the Absorb™ Stent Benefits Patients

“The Absorb scaffold is a major advancement in the treatment of coronary artery disease that has the potential to affect quality of life and address patients’ desire to leave no metallic stent behind,” said Ron Waksman, MD, director of Cardiovascular Research at MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute, and the principal investigator of the ABSORB III trial.

Similar to dissolving sutures, the Absorb™ Stent dissolves gradually over a 12-month period and disappears entirely after three years. Only four small metallic markers are left behind, as an identifier of the prior location of the stent within the artery.

But why does a fully-dissolving stent help patients?

Dr. Waksman explains, “The fact that no metal material is left in the body allows the vessel to heal itself and reduces adverse side effects of permanent implants.” 

Who Is the Absorb™ Stent for?

It’s important to note that the Absorb™ Stent isn’t for everyone. In a recent study, patients who had the Absorb™ Stent had similar outcomes after one year to those who had the more conventional metal stent. In that same study, however, heart-related complications were slightly elevated for those with the Absorb™ Stent.

Moreover, patients who are unable to take blood thinners for long periods of time or possess smaller vessels are not good candidates for this new breed of stent.

Dr. Waksman says the MedStar interventional cardiology team will continue to provide traditional stents for most of their coronary heart disease patients, as the safety assessment of the Absorb™ Stent continues.

The Front Line of Innovation for Heart Patients

Currently, MedStar Washington Hospital Center and MedStar Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore offer the new stent. At the Hospital Center, a man in his 80's became the first patient to receive the dissolvable stent a month after the FDA approval.

“Once again MedStar is on the front line of medical technology the first to offer new innovation to Mid-Atlantic and DC patients, this time it is a bioresorbable scaffold that perform similar to a metallic stent but disappears from the body overtime and leave nothing behind, said Dr. Waksman.


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Advanced Heart Failure

Advanced Heart Failure

Many patients find they can manage their heart failure and maintain their quality of life with lifestyle changes and basic medicines prescribed by our doctors.But if the condition worsens, we also offer powerful medications, sophisticated devices to help the heart and even transplants. The cardiologists and surgeons in our Advanced Heart Failure Program have the expertise and experience needed to successfully offer these complex treatments.    

Our team will help you decide on the treatment plan that makes the most sense for you. We also work closely with family members and other caregivers. Learn more about the renowned team at our Advanced Heart Failure Program.

Advanced Heart Failure Symptoms

Advanced heart failure symptoms are similar to those experienced by patients with less serious disease. The difference is that symptoms can be felt with minimal exertion or even at rest. These include:

  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling of the legs and feet
  • Swelling of the abdomen
  • Irregular heartbeat (learn more about cardiac arrhythmia)
  • Weight loss
  • Chest pain

 The severity of symptoms can still vary from day-to-day, or even within the same day.

 Learn more about heart failure

Advanced Heart Failure Treatment

Our doctors usually treat less-severe heart failure with lifestyle changes and more common medications. But more advanced heart failure often requires a deeper approach. Possible options include:

  • Inotropes: Medications that increase your heart’s squeezing capacity (only select centers like ours can send patients home on these powerful medications)
  • Cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) device: Ensures the right and left side of your heart contract at the same time (learn more about pacemakers)
  • Percutaneous valves: Repair or replacement of heart valves with a minimally invasive approach that avoids open-heart surgery
  • Left ventricular assist devices (LVAD): Devices that help the heart, either as permanent treatment or as a temporary measure before transplant
  • Heart transplant: Replacement of the heart with a donor organ 

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