Published: Mon, November 06, 2017
Health Care | By Oscar Goodwin

Stents Might Not Be Necessary in the Treatment of Chest Pain

Stents Might Not Be Necessary in the Treatment of Chest Pain

A procedure used to relieve chest pain in hundreds of thousands of heart patients each year is useless for many of them, researchers reported on Wednesday. Therefore, inserting stents into the most blocked one doesn't do much.

The devices are actually small tubes made of metal wires, which are inserted into blocked arteries to prevent the apparition of blood clots. "It's this second group that we studied", explained lead author Rasha Al-Lamee, from the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial College London.

The study had 200 participants who were experiencing stable angina, CBS News reports.

For the first six weeks, the patients received drugs which reduced both their pain and their risk of suffering a heart attack. Cardiologists who have reviewed the study say that the results "show unequivocally that there are no benefits" of using stents - compared to drug therapy - for patients with stable angina. Angina is the medical term for chest pain, which is usually caused when fatty plaques build up in the arteries.

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Stents aren't cheap, either: The devices and their insertion them costs from $11,000 to $41,000 at hospitals in the United States. Then, they were inserted either real of fake stents, and neither the doctors nor the patients knew who had the real thing.

"While these findings are interesting and deserve more attention, they do not mean that patients should never undergo the [stent] procedure for stable angina".

"So though it is surprising, no difference was found in the two patient groups, this study confirms how good medical therapy is".

"It seems that the link between opening a narrowing coronary artery and improving symptoms is not as simple as everyone had hoped", Al-Lamee said. The sample group consisted of patients with stable angina.

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"We don't know if the conclusions apply to people with more severe disease", Dr Maron said.

"All cardiology guidelines should be revised", Dr. David L. Brown of Washington University School of Medicine and Dr. Rita F. Redberg of the University of California, San Francisco, wrote in an editorial published with the new study, according to the Times.

In fact, these cardiologists are calling for a downgrade in stent recommendations, citing the fact that over half a million patients in the USA and Europe undergo stent treatment, and that a significant minority go through severe complications like heart attacks, stroke, kidney failure and even death.

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