Former President Bill Clinton received two stents in one of his coronary arteries Thursday at a New York City hospital, according to a prepared statement by his adviser Douglas Band. Clinton, who underwent a quadruple bypass in 2004, left New York–Presbyterian Hospital on Friday.
Coronary stents are mesh scaffolds that are threaded into arteries and then expanded, usually by inflating a balloon inside the stent, to hold a previously plaque-clogged vessel open. Stents are often employed following angioplasty, in which an unstented balloon is first inflated to widen a clogged or narrowed artery; the stent is then inserted and expanded by another balloon to keep the vessel from renarrowing. Direct stenting [above] opens the artery and implants the stent in one step.
A 2007 study in The New England Journal of Medicine cast doubt on the benefits of stents in typical heart-disease patients, but stenting remains a common medical procedure. According to The Wall Street Journal, about one million stents are implanted in the U.S. each year.
Illustration: Ken Eward/BioGrafx