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Health Beat: Dissolving heart stents

By Melanie Falcon, Anchor / Reporter, @Melanie_Falcon, MFalcon@wfmz.com
Published On: Mar 13 2013 10:33:32 AM CDT
Updated On: Mar 13 2013 04:44:50 PM CDT

Do you ever struggle to walk up a flight of stairs? Extreme weakness can be a signal that something is seriously wrong with your heart.
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Do you ever struggle to walk up a flight of stairs? Extreme weakness can be a signal that something is seriously wrong with your heart. Now, a new device is helping people regain their energy and save lives.

You've heard of a stent -- a mesh tube inserted into an artery. But now, doctors are taking it a step further with a dissolving stent called, "Absorb."

It's already approved in Europe and parts of Asia and Latin America, and it's now being tested in the U.S.

John Brinker is one of the first patients to receive the dissolving stent. Lugging heavy groceries used to be exhausting for him.

"It would have worn me out to do this," he said, as he pushed around a cart.

An angiogram revealed a dangerous blockage in his coronary artery, severely reducing blood flow to his heart. 

Dr. Dean Kereiakes, with the Christ Hospital in Cincinnati, used a new mesh scaffold to prop open Brinker's clogged artery. 

"It will open the blockage,” said Kereiakes.

It will then release medication into the blood vessel, and after that, unlike a metal stent, it will disappear after the artery heals.

"It slowly dissolves like a lollipop in your mouth and goes away, leaving behind a normal-appearing and normal-functioning artery," explained Kereiakes.

No metal left behind means a lower risk of clotting and stent fractures.

"I'm back as good as ever, maybe better," said John Brinker.

Today, Brinker's heart is healthy. He's full of energy and even enjoys a trip to the grocery store.

DOWNLOAD and VIEW research summary

DOWNLOAD and VIEW the full-length interview with Dr. Dean Kereiakes about the new absorbable stent