Published: Mon, November 06, 2017
Health Care | By Alberto Manning

Unbelievable: Heart stents fail to ease chest pain

Unbelievable: Heart stents fail to ease chest pain

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.

Moreover, angioplasty is an expensive and sometimes elective procedure, which means patients could end up paying up to $50,000 in certain states across the U.S.

Heart stents are small tubes, generally made from metal or fabric, that are used to restore blood flow through narrow or blocked arteries. "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. Angina is the medical term for chest pain, which is usually caused when fatty plaques build up in the arteries.

The study was published online November 2 in The Lancet medical journal, to coincide with a presentation at a cardiology meeting in Denver.

Al-Lamee said, "Surprisingly, even though the stents improved blood supply, they didn't provide more relief of symptoms compared to drug treatments, at least in this patient group".

"While these findings are interesting and deserve more attention, they do not mean that patients should never undergo the [stent] procedure for stable angina. It may be that some patients opt to have an invasive procedure over taking long-term medication to control their symptoms".

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Researchers then tested patients with a series of physical exercises, and found the subjects who received the stents did not feel any different to those who had not. The sample group consisted of patients with stable angina.

That said, the study can not be taken as conclusive or definitive at this point. It's a very humbling study for someone who puts in stents", said Brahmajee K Nallamothu, an interventional cardiologist at the University of Michigan.William E Boden, a cardiologist and professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine, called the results "unbelievable."David Maron, a cardiologist at Stanford University, praised the new study as "very well conducted" but said that it left some questions unanswered".

Dr Brown, a cardiologist, said stenting remains a "crucial treatment", particularly among patients intolerant to medication or medical therapy.

Researchers in the United Kingdom recruited 200 patients with blocked arteries and severe chest pain.

Kindsvater says more often than not, stents are absolutely needed.

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