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AMERICAN MORNING

House Call: Heart Stent Warning

Aired October 30, 2003 - 09:18   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: A couple of warnings about heart attacks this morning: one from a popular device to keep arteries clear. The other from a popular pain killer. Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us again from the CNN Center in Atlanta with a little more.
Good morning, Sanjay.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Miles.

Yes, first of all, the numbers in both these stories are pretty small. So that's a little bit of heartening news about these studies. We'll first start with these stents. These stents are pretty commonly known device now to try and keep arteries open in patients with significant heart disease. There's been some concern over one of the most popular stents that, in fact, these coated stents may, in fact, lead to increased blood clotting around the blood stent.

Take a look at this animation here. This is how a stent works, basically keeps the artery open like that. Some of the stents are actually coated with a certain material there that you can see to actually try and prevent clotting. It seems to work pretty well, pretty darn well in terms of keeping the artery open. But some blood clots actually forming around the stent itself.

Now, again, as I mentioned, Miles, one of the most popular stents, over 260,000 distributed in the United States. This has just been around since April. Two-hundred and ninety patients or so complaining of these blood clots. The very concerning part of that is 60 deaths also related to this, 50 reports 6 allergic reactions, as well. Certainly something to keep an eye on. The FDA has issued a warning about this. A lot of doctors we talk to, cardiologists say, they're probably going to continue to use this, although may recommend that patients city stay on anti-clotting medications a little bit longer -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: If you're a patient that has had a cipher stent, first of all, how would you know that? And secondly, what would you do about it?

GUPTA: A lot of patients who have these stents placed, that's an invasive procedure. That's something that you get done by a cardiologist. A cardiologist will tell you that you have the stent placed and what kind of stent it is. Second of all, it's hard to say exactly how doctors are going to respond to this. The numbers are small. A lot of the cardiologists say it may be as simple as keeping someone on the anti-clotting medications, such as Aspirin, such as Coumadin (ph), such as Plavix (ph), medications like that, a little bit longer. Jury's still out on that, Miles, but that's what we're hearing from the cardiologist.

O'BRIEN: Let's talk about Vioxx. Some indication it might increase the risk of heart attack?

GUPTA: This stat has been around since August of 2001. They talked about the increase of heart attack with Vioxx. The numbers are very small. Perhaps a small percentage increase in the overall risk of heart attacks with Vioxx. They say 37 percent to 39 percent but that's of a very small number. After 90 days, no increased risk.

We've talked to the makers of Vioxx, the Merck company. They say more data is going to really be necessary comparing Vioxx to taking no anti-inflammatories at all. That data is not there yet. So talk to your doctor about the Vioxx, especially if you have concerns about heart disease.

O'BRIEN: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thanks very much.

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