November 8, 2017 – ‘Unbelievable’: Heart Stents Fail to Ease Chest Pain
A procedure used to relieve chest pain in hundreds of thousands of heart patients each year is useless for many of them, researchers reported on Wednesday.
Their study focused on the insertion of stents, tiny wire cages, to open blocked arteries. The devices are lifesaving when used to open arteries in patients in the throes of a heart attack.
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. Sometimes patients get stents when they have no pain at all, just blockages.
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.