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Lourdes Cardiologists First in South Jersey, Philadelphia to Implant New Dissolving Heart Stent

Interventional cardiologists at Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center are among the first in South Jersey and Philadelphia to implant a patient with the world’s first FDA-approved dissolving heart stent.

Vijay K. Verma, MD, FACC, FSCAI, a Lourdes interventional cardiologist with The Heart House, implanted the patient with Abbott’s Absorb bioresorbable vascular scaffold on September 16 at Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center. Dr. Verma was principal investigator of three Absorb clinical trials at Lourdes. The device received FDA approval in July 2016.

Coronary artery disease (CAD) affects 15 million people in the United States and remains a leading cause of death worldwide despite decades of therapeutic advances. The Absorb device is a major advance in the treatment of CAD, said Reginald Blaber, MD, Executive Director Lourdes Cardiovascular Institute  and Vice President of Cardiovascular Services and Chairman, Department of Medicine at Lourdes.

“The Absorb stent is a game-changer in the treatment of blocked coronary arteries,” said Dr. Blaber. “We’re proud to offer this first-of-its-kind technology to patients at Lourdes. We are committed to providing patients with leading-edge treatments. Bioresorbable stents represent the future of treating heart disease.”

While stents are traditionally made of permanent metal implants, the Absorb stent is made of a naturally dissolving material, similar to dissolving sutures. Absorb’s small mesh tube is designed to open a blocked heart vessel, restore blood flow to the heart, then gradually disappear over a three-to-five-year span. The device dissolves except for two pairs of tiny metallic markers that remain in the artery to enable a physician to see where the device was placed.

“Because no permanent stent is left behind, we are able to reduce the risk of blood clots forming,” said Dr. Verma. “Although complications from metal stents are rare, the bioresorbable stent offers great benefits to the patient. It also allows physicians to perform additional procedures in the treated vessel–should another intervention be needed in the future.”

Coronary artery disease results in blockages caused by the buildup of fat and cholesterol in the vessels that supply blood to the heart, putting patients at risk for heart attack. Since the 1990s, physicians have treated patients with CAD with balloon angioplasty, and metallic and drug-eluting metallic stents, to open the blocked vessels, allowing many patients to avoid more invasive open heart surgery.

Not all patients are suitable candidates for the Absorb device, and the cardiologist will determine the most appropriate stent for placement based on the location and condition of the blocked artery at the time of treatment in the catheterization lab, explained Dr. Verma.

Lourdes is one of the largest providers of cardiac services in the Delaware Valley. Known for its innovation in heart care, the New York Times featured Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center as a national model in the effective and swift treatment of heart attacks (June 2015) (

Lourdes has received a variety of awards, including being named as one of America’s 50 Best Hospitals for Cardiac Surgery by Healthgrades (2015), Truven Health Analytics 50 Top Cardiovascular Hospitals (2015), and the “Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award with Target: Stroke Honor Roll” by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. Lourdes’ cardiac program has also garnered national recognition from Becker’s Hospital Review.

“Lourdes is national leader in cardiac care,” said Dr. Blaber. “We are pleased to offer patients the Absorb stent as an advanced treatment option.”

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