It has been discovered that patients with cardiac stents, may need more than the usual one-year course of blood thinners. A heart stent is a tiny mesh that is inserted in order to increase the width of clogged coronary arteries. They are used to treat patients that are likely to experience a heart attack or severe chest pain, known as unstable angina.

Link between Blood Thinners and a Heart Stent

Dr. Laura Mauri, from Brigham Hospital, conducted a study on request from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The study was conducted on 10,000 patients to reveal the relationship between blood thinners administered after heart stent surgeries. It found that patients who took a a course of aspirin paired with an anti-clotting drug (Effient or Plavix) for 30 months, stood a far lower chance of suffering a heart attack.

The study also found that continued usage of blood thinners, for another eighteen months, can significantly reduce the risk of future clots, heart attacks and other problems. Careful medical prescription is necessary, as combining several drugs can lead to side effects like nose bleeds and bruising. However, when patients were taken off the two-drug course, their susceptibility to heart attacks went up. This suggests that indefinite treatment may be required in order to regulate risks.

Complementary Therapies and Medical Recommendations

Also, it was found that anti-platelet therapy aids the recovery from coronary artery surgeries. Stent thrombosis (ST) is a severe complication that can occur after placing heart stents. ST can lead to death by a heart attack (myocardial infarction). According to Dr. Cutlip and Dr. Nicolau, long term dual anti-platelet therapy significantly reduces the risk of ST, thus preventing heart attacks.

The doctors conveyed that for patients with ulcers and those prone to bleeding, the two-drug approach would not be recommended. However, they stated that they would advocate it to patients who have a history of unstable angina, diabetes or conditions associated with high heart-attack risk.

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