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JFK Medical Center - One of the First to Use a Dissolving Stent

JFK DrHusain

February is American Heart Month. Over the course of the month, advocacy organizations, governmental bodies, and media across the country engage in efforts to raise awareness of heart disease and provide educational information on how to improve your heart health, what treatments are available, and staying aware of signs of this deadly disease.

Heart disease, unfortunately, is a serious public health issue and is now the leading cause of death for men and women in the U.S. The most common type of heart disease – coronary artery disease (CAD) – afflicts some 15 million Americans.

In a recent interview, Saleem Husain, M.D., Interventional Medical Director of JFK Medical Center’s Cardiac Catheterization Lab, discusses the impact of CAD and recent innovations in treatment that JFK has adopted.

Q: What is coronary artery disease?
A: Coronary artery disease occurs when the arteries that supply blood to the heart become narrowed or blocked by a buildup of “plaque.” Plaque is made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium and other deposits that accumulate on the inner walls of the artery. This plaque can harden and narrow the coronary arteries, which constricts the flow of blood to the heart muscle. When blood flow to the heart is reduced or blocked, chest pain – also known as angina – and even a heart attack can occur.

Q: How is coronary artery disease treated?
A: Before the late 1970’s, open-heart surgery was the only way to treat patients with persistent symptoms of CAD. Since then, we have seen great progress in treatment and have been able to take advantage of several less invasive options, including balloon angioplasty, the development of bare metal stents, and the drug-eluting stent, in which metallic mesh stents are coated with medication to prevent re-narrowing of the blood vessel where the stent is placed. Today, we have taken yet another step further with the development of a dissolving stent. This dissolvable device – called the ABSORB bio-resorbable stent – was developed by Abbott Labs and received approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in July 2016. At JFK, we are the first cardiac catheterization lab in Middlesex County to adopt its use.

Q: How does this dissolvable stent work?
A: ABSORB is the first fully dissolving device of its kind - a drug eluting coronary stent that dissolves, completely and naturally, in the body over time. Made of a naturally dissolving material, the device disappears once it has done its job of keeping a clogged artery open and promoting healing of the artery. Metal stents, the current standard of care, are permanent implants that stay inside arteries for the rest of a person’s life.

Q: Why has JFK become an “early adopter” of this new device?
A: Coronary Artery Disease is a significant problem in the U.S., prompting the use of stents in more than 850,000 people each year. Continuing its efforts to offer leading-edge treatment options for its patients, JFK’s Cardiac Catheterization Lab became one of the first in New Jersey to provide a new bio-absorbable stent as an alternative to traditional metal stents, which we believe can be a significant benefit to our patients.

Q: What are the advantages to the patient of using this device?
A: This is proven technology – and a very positive development as another treatment option, particularly for people who are younger and may require future procedures. If there is a need for a future procedure, because ABSORB dissolves into the body, we will not have to add one permanent stent on top of another, which will make the procedure much easier.

Q: How long does it last in the body?
A: Abbott’s ABSORB is made of a naturally dissolvable material called polylactide, similar to dissolving stitches. ABSORB disappears completely over a three-year period.