Federal Study Finds Surgery for Blocked Arteries is Usually Unwarrantedadmin
A new study, the findings of which were recently presented at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association, “call into question the medical care provided to tens of thousands of heart disease patients with blocked coronary arteries,” The New York Times reports. With over 1.8 million stents implanted and 340,000 coronary artery bypass procedures performed each year in the United States jumping right to a surgical solution that immediately clears the blockage has been the norm. This study, however, “found that patients who received drug therapy alone did not experience more heart attacks or die more often than those who also received bypass surgery or stents.”
The study, called Ischemia, followed 5,179 participants for a median of three and a half years. All participants had moderate to severe blockages in coronary arteries with one in three experiencing no chest pain and one in five experiencing chest pain at least once a week. Patients were randomly assigned to either receive medical therapy alone or intervention and medical therapy. In the intervention group, three-quarters of participants received stents, while the remainder received bypass surgery. Those who received stents were also prescribed anti-clotting medication for six months to a year.
The results of the study found an insignificant that 145 patients who received a stent of bypass died, compared to the 144 who received medication alone. 276 patients in the stent a bypass group had heart attacks, compared with 314 in the medication group, “an insignificant difference,” Gina Kolata writes.
“This is an extraordinarily important trial,” Dr.Glenn Levine, director of cardiac care at Baylor College of Medicine and American Heart Association guidelines committee member said.
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