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Sharp Health News

A new kind of heart stent

Aug. 4, 2016

A new kind of heart stent

It may look like jewelry, but it’s a stent. Sharp Memorial Hospital recently implanted San Diego’s first bioresorbable heart stent, which dissolves after an artery heals. (Photo courtesy of Abbott Laboratories)

Imagine a treatment for chest pain and heart attacks that literally disappears over time. Sharp Memorial is the first hospital in San Diego to offer a revolutionary new device for heart disease — one that completely dissolves in the body over a few years.

The device, called Absorb, is the world’s first bioresorbable heart stent. Unlike traditional stents, which are made of metal, this device dissolves over two to three years, allowing an artery to function normally again.

Nearly 1 million Americans need stents each year to open a blocked coronary artery. However, metal stents — which stay in the body permanently — come with an increased risk of infection and blood clots. Metal stents also restrict the movement of blood vessels and can complicate future heart procedures a patient may need.

“This bioresorbable stent shows a lot of promise,” says Dr. Raghava Gollapudi, medical director of the Cardiac Catheterization Lab at Sharp Memorial Hospital, where these procedures are performed. “It gives us another therapy in our tool box to treat coronary artery disease. I think it will be a great option for some patients.”

The device made sense to Mark Jurisich, a 47-year-old father and avid surfer from San Diego, who was the first patient in San Diego to receive the device. Jurisich came to Sharp Memorial’s emergency department at the urging of loved ones after experiencing chest pain when he surfed. Doctors discovered he had suffered a mild heart attack and found significant blockage in one of his arteries.

“To me, it was great news to hear that something going into my heart wouldn’t be there forever,” Jurisich says.

The stent isn’t for every patient, says Gollapudi, who implanted Jurisich’s stent. Absorb is bulkier than the traditional ones, so people with very small arteries or those more vulnerable to blood clots may not be good candidates.

Absorb was developed and is manufactured by global health care company Abbott. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the device in early July 2016. Sharp Memorial was the first hospital on the West Coast to implant the device in 2013 during the national clinical trial, and the hospital remained a major participant in the trial.

The bioresorbable stent will soon be available at two other Sharp HealthCare hospitals — Sharp Grossmont Hospital and Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center.

For the media: To talk with Dr. Gollapudi about the bioresorbable heart stent, contact Erica Carlson, senior public relations specialist, at erica.carlson@sharp.com or 858-499-3052.

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