Learn how a drug commonly used to treat breast cancer is being used on heart stents, which may help prevent the over growth of scar tissue.
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Jennifer Matthews: At 51-years old, Ronnie Little decided it was time for a physical. Doctors immediately found a problem with his heart. Ronnie Little: They told me I'd had a heart attack. I must have had it in my sleep, because I don't remember having it. Jennifer Matthews: Two of his blood vessels were blocked. He needed mesh tubes called stents in each artery to get his blood flowing again. Cardiologist Joel Greenberg put in Ronnie's stents, but the two stents may not be the same. As part of a clinical study, one of the stents could be coated with Paclitaxel, a drug commonly used to treat breast cancer. Dr. Joel Greenberg: We will get an inpatient comparison of with and without drug covering. Jennifer Matthews: When the stent is inserted, it opens the artery, but it also causes the artery to form scar tissue. In up to 40% of the patients, the tissue clogs the artery again. Doctor Greenberg says preliminary research shows Paclitaxel helps prevent the overgrowth of scar tissue. Dr. Joel Greenberg: Nothing has answered the question of re-narrowing inside an artery due to excessive tissue growth. This is probably the silver bullet that's going to do that for us and dramatically improve patient outcomes. Jennifer Matthews: Ronnie hopes it will help him avoid open heart surgery. Meanwhile he's trying to be healthy with a new diet and exercise program, because he knows he's been given a second chance. This is Jennifer Matthews reporting.