People at high risk of stroke due to blocked blood vessels in the brain benefit from successful stent placement, according to a study published in the Feb. 6, 2007, issue of Neurology, the scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
“Before now it’s been unclear whether people with severe artery blockage, an important cause of stroke, had a higher subsequent stroke risk after angioplasty and stent placement than people with moderate blockage,” said study author Wei-Jian Jiang, MD, with the Beijing Tiantan Hospital at the Capital University of Medical Sciences in Beijing, China. “This study shows people with severe blockage do not have a higher subsequent stroke risk after stent placement.”
For the study, researchers in Beijing evaluated 213 people who had received a stent, which is an expandable wire form used to open up a narrowing or totally obstructed blood vessel. Stents are inserted in the blood vessels through an artery-opening procedure called angioplasty. Of the group, 121 people had severe artery blockage of more than 70 percent, while 92 people had moderate blockage of 50 to 69 percent. Their ages ranged from 20 to 79.
The study found the risk of stroke for people with severe blockage was 7.2 percent at one year after stent placement and 8.2 percent at two years after placement. That compares to the moderate blockage group, which had a 5.3-percent risk of stroke at one year after stent placement and 8.3 percent at two years after placement.
“There was no significant difference in the risk of stroke between the two groups after stent placement,” said Jiang. “These similar results suggest while patients with severe blockage benefit from stents, patients with moderate blockage may not, since our study shows the degree of artery blockage isn’t a predictor of stroke risk after stent placement.”
Jiang says a clinical trial is needed to determine the benefits of stents in people with severe artery blockage before it can be used as a routine procedure.