ANCHOR LEAD: PHYSICALLY REMOVING CLOTS FROM THE HEART MAY BE HELPFUL, ELIZABETH TRACEY REPORTS
Most heart attacks are the result of a clot forming in the blood vessels that supply the heart, the so-called coronary arteries. Contrary to what might seem commonsense, most treatments do not attempt to remove the clot, but now a new study concludes that might be the best strategy. Rick Lange, a cardiologist at Johns Hopkins, describes current options.
LANGE: We’ve tried to remove it in several ways. One is in giving clot busting medications. Unfortunately they’re not effective in everybody. They can only dissolve the clot in about 80-85% of individuals successfully. Next we tried to break up the clot, but then it often goes downstream. Well, with the advent of new devices we can actually aspirate or suck out the clot and afterwards use a balloon or a stent to open the artery up. Well in this issue of the Lancet, the individuals who actually had the clot sucked out of the artery had a lower one year mortality than those who had conventional treatment with the balloons and the stents. :33
Lange says confirmatory studies are needed. I’m Elizabeth Tracey reporting.