Stent Side Effects: Blood Clots (thrombosis), Strokes, Heart Attacks, Death
Despite their growing popularity among cardiologists and patients, drug coated stents have been linked with severe side effects including:
• Allergic reactions
• Increased risk of heart-related deaths
• Heart attacks
• Thrombosis or blood clots
Stent thrombosis is a condition where blood clots in the artery and prevents blood flow. Thrombosis is among the most dangerous side effects of DES treatment. The risk also exists with non-medicated metal stents, but a disturbing trend has appeared in drug-coated stents where patients experience a linear and cumulative rate of thrombosis over time. The release of drugs from the stent can lead to delayed healing and actually increase the likelihood of thrombosis at the stent site.
In June 2006, Boston Scientific admitted that its own clinical studies showed a higher increase in late stent thrombosis with the drug coated stent device, implying that all drug-eluting stents might have this harmful effect. This claim has been vigorously denied by its competitors.
The FDA warned patients about the Cordis CYPHER stent in 2003 after use of the CYPHER stent led to deaths in some patients due to acute thrombosis, where blood cells gather and clot around the stent, preventing the passage of blood through the artery.
A 2006 study conducted in Switzerland found that patients with drug coated stents are 40 percent more likely to die of a cardiac event or experience a heart attack after insertion of a DES device. Additionally, chances increased for non-cardiac conditions such as lung disease, cancer, and stroke for some stent patients.
Another stent drug-eluting (DES) side effect is dependence on anti-platelet drugs over the long-term. Since patients are usually put on Plavix and similar anti-thrombosis drugs after stent insertion, they are subject to the side effects of those drugs too, which include a myriad of symptoms such as gastrointestinal bleeding, strokes, rashes, chest pain, flu-like symptoms, allergic reactions, and inability to have surgery in life-threatening conditions due to the drugs' blood-thinning and anti-clotting effects. All this is bad news on top of bad news as the cost of long-term Plavix usage is staggering. While the minimum anti-platelet drug therapy averages around six months, some patients are prescribed Plavix for life.