Unbelievable: Heart stents fail to ease chest pain

Cardiologists often treat people suffering from the chest pains known as stable angina by opening arteries with stents but there is a reasonable argument

After that, they either received a stent or underwent a simulated procedure where no stent was implanted.

In cardiovascular care, the use of stents is fairly common.

The Lancet study was conducted by researchers at the Imperial College London, and involved 200 patients with a severely blocked coronary artery and chest pain acute enough to limit physical activity.

But they are most often used in patients who have a blocked artery and chest pain that occurs, for example, walking up a hill or going up stairs.

If that doesn't give pause to doubt the usefulness of stents and, in turn, catheters, the New York Times in 2015 reported there is no convincing evidence that stents reduce heart attack risk for people suffering from stable angina.

Other research has sought to examine whether heart stents are as effective in treating heart attacks as is commonly thought. Also, these devices might have work as a placebo, as well. Stents should be relieving chest pain for those who suffer from angina, but the results show they might not actually be that necessary.

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 unsafe complications that can include heart attack, kidney injury, stroke and even death.

Stents and their implantation cost from $11,000 to $41,000 in American hospitals.

As expected, the placement of a heart stent greatly improved blood flow in blocked arteries. The participants had a profound blockage but only in one artery, and they were assessed after just six weeks, he said. Six weeks later, both groups experienced less chest pain, and both groups also had improvement on treadmill tests, which left the researchers "stunned".

The findings have sent shock waves through the medical community.

"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.

The Absorb G1 BVS System was only cleared by the agency in July 2016, and was the first and only fully dissolving, drug-eluting stent ever approved to treat patients with coronary artery disease. However, the company maintained that the move was made for commercial reasons rather than safety concerns.

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