Many patients with severe but stable heart disease who routinely undergo invasive procedures to clear and prop open clogged arteries would do as well by just taking medications and making lifestyle changes, US researchers reported.
If adopted into practice, the findings could save hundreds of millions of dollars a year in healthcare costs, researchers said.
The $100 million government-backed study, presented at the American Heart Association (AHA) meeting in Philadelphia, is the largest yet to look at whether procedures to restore normal blood flow in patients with stable heart disease offers an added benefit over more conservative treatment with aspirin, cholesterol-lowering drugs and other measures.
At least two prior studies determined that artery-clearing and stenting or bypass surgery in addition to medical treatment does not significantly lower the risk of heart attacks or death compared with non-invasive medical approaches alone, Daily Sabah reported.
Many cardiologists are reluctant to change practice in part because patients who get stents to keep the artery open report feeling better right away, experts said.
NYU Langone cardiologist Dr. Judith Hochman, who chaired the study, estimated that some 500,000 new patients a year are diagnosed with stable coronary artery disease, in which heart arteries narrowed by fatty deposits cause periodic angina, or chest pain, typically after exercising or emotional distress.