‘Unbelievable’: Heart Stents Fail to Ease Chest Pain
The new study, published in the Lancet, stunned leading cardiologists by countering decades of clinical experience. The findings raise questions about whether stents should be used so often — or at all — to treat chest pain.
“It’s a very humbling study for someone who puts in stents,” said Dr. Brahmajee K. Nallamothu, an interventional cardiologist at the University of Michigan.
Dr. William E. Boden, a cardiologist and professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine, called the results “unbelievable.”
Dr. David Maron, a cardiologist at Stanford University, praised the new study as “very well conducted” but said that it left some questions unanswered. 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,” Dr. Maron said. “And we don’t know if the conclusions apply for a longer period of observation.”
For the study, Dr. Justin E. Davies, a cardiologist at Imperial College London, and his colleagues recruited 200 patients with a profoundly blocked coronary artery and chest pain severe enough to limit physical activity, common reasons for inserting a stent.
All were treated for six weeks with drugs to reduce the risk of a heart attack, like aspirin, a statin and a blood pressure drug, as well as medications that relieve chest pain by slowing the heart or opening blood vessels.