Stents and Stroke

LONDON - Stroke patients over 70 who get stents to keep their arteries open may be doubling their risk of having another stroke or dying compared to patients who get surgery instead, a new study says.

European researchers examined past studies from more than 3,400 stroke patients, including 1,725 who got stents and 1,708 who had surgery, and found that a patient's age makes a big difference. In patients under 70, 5.8 percent who got the stents had a stroke or died within four months of the initial procedure, compared to 5.7 percent of those who had a surgery instead. But in patients older than 70, 12 percent of those who got a stent had a stroke or died in that same time period versus 5.9 percent of the patients who only had surgery. The study appears today in the journal Lancet and was paid for by Britain's Stroke Association.

In February, an American study found stents were as safe as surgery for treating narrow neck arteries. It also found the stents were more dangerous in patients older than 70. Doctors think stents may be more dangerous in older people because their arteries are more easily damaged during the procedure. Martin Brown, a professor of neurology at University College London and the study's lead author, said the research confirmed that younger patients may have a choice between a stent or surgery.

(From: Portland Press Herald, September 10,2010)