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FEATURE ARTICLE

Stents to Prevent Stroke

These devices can spring into shape automatically to open arteries blocked with plaque

Stephen P. Lownie, David M. Pelz

Hardening of the arteries doesn’t just lead to heart disease, it can also lead to a stroke—when a blood vessel to the brain, particularly in the neck, becomes blocked. Strokes are the third leading cause of death and disability in the United States. Surgery can be performed to clean out blocked arteries, but sometimes this can be too risky, especially for older patients. Lownie discusses his successful experiences with self-expanding stents, small metal coils that can be squeezed down inside a thin catheter and then inserted into a blockage, where they gradually spring back to their original shape and push the blockage to the sides in the process. He discusses how modern imaging techniques may help to classify plaque types more precisely and make stents even more targeted to specific blockages.


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