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Study Calls into Question Value of Heart Stents


  11:35:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 279 words,  
Categories: News, Heart, Research

Study Calls into Question Value of Heart Stents


British researchers have determined that a regimen of medications can be just as effective in treating heart patients as a coronary stent insertion to open blocked arteries. The results raise questions about the value of using stents for the treatment of stable angina – a procedure that can cost as much as $40,000 for the 500,000 Americans who receive it annually.

According to The New York Times, the study authors recruited 200 patients with a profoundly blocked coronary artery and treated them for six weeks with drugs to reduce their heart attack risk. All patients then underwent the stent procedure, but only half actually had the device inserted. Neither the patients nor the researchers knew who had received the stent, and both patient groups took additional drugs to prevent blood clots post-procedure.

Six weeks following the stent procedure, both groups said they had less chest pain and showed improvement on treadmill test.

If the results of the study hold and a stent was no more effective than a placebo (which, by the way, has consistently been proven to be quite effective) then another consideration is the risk to patients from a) the introduction of a foreign body into the patient, and b) the additional risk posed to the patient if a an anti-platelet such as Plavix is used and is ineffective because of genetic makeup or poor patient adherence. In those situations, the stent could have increased the risk of problems for the patient.

History has demonstrated that a combination of qutting smoking, proper diet and exercise, and drug treatment has been successful in preventing heart disease. MedBen recommends to clients that such measures have been thoroughly explored before invasive procedures are considered.

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