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News Release

Media Contact: Tom Grant

Published on May 02, 2002

Press Release

Physicians Using Cancer Fighting Drug

Drug-Coated Stents Used in Clinical Trial to Prevent Arteries from Re-clogging

Takoma Park, MD - A drug normally used to treat breast cancer may prove effective in preventing arteries from becoming clogged again in patients that are being treated for heart disease.

A clinical trial currently underway at Washington Adventist Hospital is testing the efficacy of using stents coated with the drug to prevent arteries from becoming blocked after they have been opened.

Each year some 750,000 angioplasty procedures are performed to open blocked arteries in patients with heart disease. During angioplasty, a doctor inflates a balloon inside the artery to open the passageway. In many cases a stent - a tiny mesh tube - is also inserted to help keep the artery propped open.

While stents have proven effective, in some cases tissue grows again at the diseased site and clogs both the artery and the stent. This re-growth of tissue, known as restenosis, requires either an additional angioplasty procedure or open-heart surgery.

The clinical trial currently underway at Washington Adventist and other sites is both randomized - so patients have a 50% chance of receiving a stent coated with the drug - and "blinded," so neither the doctor nor the patient will know which stent is being inserted.

During the procedure, doctors perform a regular angioplasty and then place a stent that is either coated with the drug or is not coated in the precise area of the artery where the blockage had occurred. In the case of drug-coated stents, the medicine is slowly released locally within the artery over approximately 30 days.

"This is a groundbreaking procedure that may have a dramatic effect in the way heart disease patients are treated," said Mark Turco, M.D., Director of the Center for Cardiac and Vascular Research (CCVR) at Washington Adventist Hospital. "If this treatment method proves effective - and early indications are positive - then patients may be available to avoid repeat angioplasty procedures. Drug coated stents also may prove to be a viable, long term alternative to open-heart surgery."

Some 62 million Americans have a form of cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death according to the American Heart Association.

Washington Adventist Hospital, located in Takoma Park, Maryland, is a 338-bed hospital that has offered leading edge cardiology care to tens of thousands of patients throughout the East Coast for more than 30 years. The Center for Cardiac & Vascular Research, led by Dr. Turco, coordinates the hospital's involvement in various clinical trials and research projects.

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