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TAKING AIM AT CLOGGED ARTERIES AV HOSPITAL OFFERING NEW BREAKTHROUGH.

Byline: Daily News

LANCASTER - Antelope Valley Hospital has joined with other leading heart centers throughout the United States to offer a leading-edge treatment in the fight against coronary disease.

The newly FDA-approved drug-eluting stent available at AVH is being hailed as a major medical breakthrough for heart patients because of the way it opens clogged or narrowed arteries and prevents the blockage from recurring.

``Drug-eluting stents represent a significant advance in interventional cardiology,'' said Anil Kumar, M.D., a cardiologist and cardiology department chair at Antelope Valley Hospital. ``We are pleased to make this new option available to patients and their physicians in our community.''

Coronary artery disease is the buildup of plaque - cholesterol, calcium and other substances - on the inside of the coronary artery walls. Over time the arteries become narrowed, resulting in a reduction of blood flow to the heart. ``Chest pain is the most common symptom of coronary artery disease,'' Kumar said. ``If the plaque tears or ruptures, a blood clot can form and block the artery, causing a heart attack.''

In some cases the buildup of plaque can be treated with angioplasty, a method of opening blocked arteries and restoring the flow of blood to the heart. When first introduced, angioplasty represented a major step forward in the treatment of coronary artery disease. But one problem has always remained: how to keep the arteries from closing back up. The advent of the drug-eluting stent may be the answer cardiologists have been seeking.

Tiny tubes called stents have been used for many years to treat coronary artery disease. These stents reinforce arteries that are blocked or weakened. However, in as many as 30 percent of patients, the stent itself can become partially blocked over time by the renarrowing of the artery.

The drug-eluting stents available at AVH have been shown in clinical trials to prevent the regrowth of plaque and greatly reduce the need for costly repeat procedures. The key ingredient is a drug called rapymiacin, which plays a vital role in the prevention of organ rejection.

After the stent is implanted into the coronary arteries for 30 to 45 days, the drug seeps into the coronary artery wall surrounding the device and prevents the accumulation of scar tissue that could reblock the artery.

Coronary artery disease affects more than 20 million Americans, and the average American has a 20 percent likelihood of this occurring before the age of 60.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Aug 27, 2003
Words:403
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