A drug coated stent is used to open blocked arteries and to keep that opened artery in place to prevent the blockage from overwhelming it again. The stent is a stainless steel tube with notches that blocks the cells from multiplying and causing another blockage. Although the blockage may once again grow and overwhelm the stent, a new stent, the drug-coated or “drug eluting” stent contains a cynostatic agent that prevents the blockage cells from multiplying and overwhelming the stent, as it would with a stainless steel version.
This process came out of the use of balloon angioplasty to open blocked blood vessels where a tube was inserted and inflated to clear blockages. Of course, the body would try to heal itself and reform to the cells that caused the blockage in the first place. The later additions of stents allowed for the vessel to remain open for a longer period of time, but not before eventfully being overwhelmed again.
What are some issues with the use of drug-coated stents?
There has been the overzealous use of stents in recent years contrary to FDA recommendations and some patients have suffered as a result as there are ever-present risks when dealing with coronary arteries and there is a risk for myocardial infection. As the stent is medicated, it also became too effective, and provided a surface for clots to form as normal cells could not regenerate. These clots may cause heart failure and a host of other heart problems for 1 in 500 patients.
Stent thrombosis may occur in some cases as the body reacts poorly to the presence of a foreign object in the body which may in turn provide the opportunity for a life threatening clot to form. Stents are estimated to kill around 2,000 Americans a year and approximately 4 million stents have been placed in patients. It is speculated that the FDA may regulate or end the practice of using stents and many cardiologists have stopped using the device altogether.
What legal recourse do I have if I have received a drug-coated stent?
Many law firms are now accepting requests by patients to act as retainers for possible class action lawsuits. As drug coated stents are gradually found to be more and more dangerous for the patient with even higher rates of heart attacks than bare metal stents, lawsuits against the stent makers, Johnson and Johnson and Boston Scientific seem likely. If you have had a drug coated stent implanted and you believe it has put you at risk of a potentially fatal heart attack, it may be in your best interest to speak with an attorney who can inform you of your legal rights.