Stents Do Not Reduce Heart Attacks or Deaths

(p. A17) The findings of a large federal study on bypass surgeries and stents call into question the medical care provided to tens of thousands of heart disease patients with blocked coronary arteries, scientists reported at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association on Saturday [Nov. 16, 2019].

The new study found that patients who received drug therapy alone did not experience more heart attacks or die more often than those who also received bypass surgery or stents, tiny wire cages used to open narrowed arteries.

That finding held true for patients with several severely blocked coronary arteries. Stenting and bypass procedures, however, did help some patients with intractable chest pain, called angina.

. . .

Stenting costs an average of $25,000 per patient; bypass surgery costs an average of $45,000 in the United States. The nation could save more than $775 million a year by not giving stents to the 31,000 patients who get the devices even though they have no chest pain, Dr. Hochman said.

. . .

But getting a stent does not obviate the need for medical therapy, Dr. Boden noted. Since patients with stents need an additional anti-clotting drug, they actually wind up taking more medication than patients who are treated with drugs alone.

About a third of stent patients develop chest pain again within 30 days to six months and end up with receiving another stent, Dr. Boden added.

For the full story, see:

Kolata, Gina. “Drugs Are Shown to Reduce Need For Surgery to Fix Blocked Arteries.” The New York Times, First Section (Sunday, November 17, 2019): A17.

(Note: ellipses, and bracketed date, added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Nov. 16, 2019, and has the title “Surgery for Blocked Arteries Is Often Unwarranted, Researchers Find.” The online version says that the page number of the New York print edition was A19. The page number of my National edition was A17.)

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