KALAMAZOO, MICH. - After several days in and out of the hospital, Carla Cook learned she had a 60% blockage in one of her arteries and she would need a heart stent.
"I was even shocked that I needed one."
Dr. Timothy Fischell, a cardiologist at Borgess Heart Institute, thought Carla would be a perfect candidate for a new dissolvable stent that can actually improve the health of the artery.
"And over a period of years have this dissolve and have the vessel heal in an open state with no metal and no bi-pass graphs and put you back in time to where you were 20 years ago."
Before and after pictures of the stent show how it slowly dissolves over five years.
"The vessel can actually get bigger when you put a piece of metal in what you see is what you get it's not going to get bigger.” Fischell adds.
“So this can restore normal motion and remodeling capability inside the heart artery so it can become much more normal it's exciting to see that."
Dr. Fischell and the Borgess Heart Institute participated in the study that found this new stent had even more benefits.
“Even if the dissolvable stent had blockage in it, years later we could treat it like a brand new blockage without the metal in there."
The biodegradable stent is made out of a polymer called PLLA is biocompatible, meaning it doesn't cause inflammation and dissolves through natural absorption in the body.
Dr. Fischell says it's also very strong, “Strong enough to hold the vessel open and malleable so they can be stretched put into a wall."
Fortunately for Carla, she's already on the way to getting back to enjoying her 27 grandchildren.
“It's going to be wonderful. I won't have to worry about metal in my chest and hopefully everything is great and I have a long and prosperous life."
Not every heart patient is a candidate for this new stent, so it's best to discuss the option with your doctors.
The new dissolvable stents should be available in hospitals across Michigan in the next few years.
(© 2016 WZZM)