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Stroke stents pose risk for those over 70

By Maria Cheng
Associated Press / September 10, 2010

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LONDON — Stroke patients over 70 who get stents to keep their arteries open may be doubling their risk of having another stroke or dying compared with patients who get surgery instead, a new study says.

European researchers examined past studies from more than 3,400 stroke patients, including 1,725 who got stents and 1,708 who had surgery, and found that a patient’s age makes a big difference in how effective stents are.

In patients older than 70, 12 percent of those who got a stent had a stroke or died within four months of the procedure, versus about 6 percent of the patients who had only surgery.

In those under 70, there was no difference between the groups — about 6 percent in each had a stroke or died within that time period. The study was published today in the journal Lancet and was paid for by Britain’s Stroke Association.

In February, an American study found stents were as safe as surgery for treating narrow neck arteries. It also found the stents were more dangerous in patients older than 70.

Doctors think stents may be more dangerous in older people because their arteries are more easily damaged during the procedure to put the stents in place.

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