A heart procedure performed on hundreds of thousands of people a year to relieve chest pain doesn't work, a new study said. This could mean that medications alone could be enough to treat certain kinds of patients, instead of the more expensive stent that opens arteries.
The stents are considered to be lifesaving devices and used the most often in patients who have blocked artery.
Of the patient group, half received the stent and half had the placebo procedure.
For six weeks, all subjects were treated with medications - aspirin, statins, and a blood pressure drug - to reduce their risk of heart attack.
The patients who had stents implanted did not have any more improvements in their angina or in their overall quality of life, compared to those who did not get a stent. It is typically caused by the build-up of fatty plaques in the arteries and a hardening of the blood vessel walls, which makes them narrower and less flexible.
Stents and their implantation cost from $11,000 to $41,000 in American hospitals.
The researchers have published their findings in The Lancet and will present them today (Thursday, 2 November) at the Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics 2017 conference in Denver, Colorado.
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The study concluded there was "no evidence" from the trials to show stents were effective in reducing chest pain for patients with blocked arteries.
The new research which was published in the Lancet has shocked the cardiologists all over the world by countering the clinical experience of so many years.
"It seems that the link between opening a narrowing coronary artery and improving symptoms is not as simple as everyone had hoped", said Dr Al-Lamee.
Carried out in the United Kingdom and led by researchers at Imperial, the trial provides the first evidence of a direct comparison between stenting for stable angina and placebo, for patients on high quality tablet treatment.
That said, the study can not be taken as conclusive or definitive at this point. Stents should be relieving chest pain for those who suffer from angina, but the results show they might not actually be that necessary.
"Coronary stents are extremely important in taking care of heart patients". After six weeks, the researchers analysed the patients and found out that both the groups' members reported lesser chest pain and they went on to do better in the treadmill tests.
According to Brown and Redberg, each year over a half-million patients in the United States and Europe undergo stent treatment - and a sizeable minority will experience potentially risky complications that can include heart attack, kidney injury, stroke and even death. This means they expose the patient to a slight risk with arguably no payoff, as they aren't receiving the actual treatment, the Huffington Post reports.