Stents Might Not Be Necessary in the Treatment of Chest Pain

Heart stents may be useless for many in treating chest pain, according to researchers

Heart stents may be useless for many in treating chest pain, according to researchers

2, 2017 With findings that some experts believe could change cardiovascular care, a new study suggests that the placebo effect of stents in heart patients with chest pain may be far more pronounced than thought.

The Absorb G1 BVS System was only cleared by the agency in July 2016, and was the first and only fully dissolving, drug-eluting stent ever approved to treat patients with coronary artery disease. Typically used to unblock an artery and maintain vascular patency and dilation, stenting is also done for patients whose arteries aren't blocked, but experience angina caused by exertion because of narrow arteries - often referred to as stable angina. They received intensive drug treatment for six weeks, and after, either received a stent or completed a simulated procedure where there was no stent placed. The participants had a profound blockage but only in one artery, he noted, and they were assessed after just six weeks."We don't know if the conclusions apply to people with more severe disease", Maron said. It's this second group that we studied. They even go as far as to say that stenting may not even be useful in such cases where a patient's angina fails to improve after medication.

Everyone was wheeled into the operating room and underwent a procedure. Angina is the medical term for chest pain, which is usually caused when fatty plaques build up in the arteries.

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Inserting a stent costs between $11,000 and $41,000, the Times said.

The study was published online November 2 in The Lancet medical journal, to coincide with a presentation at a cardiology meeting in Denver. Patients in both groups did better on the treadmill and reported reduced symptoms though patients who received a stent were able to exercise longer.

The Lancet study was conducted by researchers at the Imperial College London, and involved 200 patients with a severely blocked coronary artery and chest pain acute enough to limit physical activity. Stents should be relieving chest pain for those who suffer from angina, but the results show they might not actually be that necessary.

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That said, the study can not be taken as conclusive or definitive at this point. The condition can be so debilitating that patients can't even climb stairs. Subjecting these patients to those risks when no benefit can be achieved is irresponsible, they said.

"I think this is a game-changer", Dr. Rita Redberg, a researcher and cardiologist at the University of California, San Francisco, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune, "I think we have some real explaining to do".

Doctors need to focus more on drug therapy and efforts at "improving the lifestyle choices" of many heart patients - things like bad diets, lack of exercise and smoking, the editorialists concluded.

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