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March 2001
By: Constance Harness

A recent AP article reported that the researchers are saying that a good dose of radiation to the arteries after they have been cleared of blockages reduces the chance that they will clog again.

Angioplasty to clear the clogs, however, has an unhappy complication - newly reopened arteries tend to squeeze shut again within a few weeks. The solution to this problem may lie in one of two recently proposed uses of radiation to stop this from happening.

Both methods involve the insertion of radioactive material into the arteries where it is left for a short period of time and then removed. Utilizing beta radiation is one approach. Beta radiation stays put in the patient's body. The other form of radiation -gamma radiation - requires medical workers to be shielded.

The downside of this possible breakthrough is the unknown health risk down the road such as development of cancer decades later. Some gamma radiation recipients have already developed dangerous blood clots.