New research has suggested that more people survive major heart attacks with fewer problems if doctors use a mini-vacuum to clear out an artery blockage instead of pushing it aside to restore blood flow.
The Dutch study happens to be the largest to date to show that suctioning out the clot before implanting a stent has big benefits
Further, it could lead to wider use in heart attack treatment. Previous smaller studies of various devices offered mixed results.
“This study suggests that it is worth doing,” said George Vetrovec, a heart disease expert at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.
Most heart attacks occur when a buildup of plaque in a coronary artery ruptures and a blood clot forms. The preferred treatment is an angioplasty.
Doctors snake a tube through a blood vessel to the blocked artery and use a small balloon to compress the blockage and restore blood flow. A tiny metal-mesh stent is put in place to keep the artery open.
But sometimes the procedure causes bits of the clot or plaque to break off and plug the tinier vessels, restricting blood flow to the heart, said Felix Zijlstra, who led the study at University Medical Center Groningen in the Netherlands.
They tried a different approach, suctioning the clot out before inserting the stent, and found reduced debris and improved blood flow.