Stents Might Not Be Necessary in the Treatment of Chest Pain

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The placebo effect of stents places in heart patients who experience chest pains may be more risky than previously thought, a new study suggests, possibly changing how cardiovascular care is carried out. Once in place, the small, wire tubes act like scaffolds to keep the artery open.

A huge number of people are struggling with heart disease nowadays, so doctors have started quite a common practice to treat them.

The Lancet study involved 200 patients with chest pain and coronary artery blockage. Also, these devices might have work as a placebo, as well. "The findings raise questions about whether stents should be used so often - or at all - to treat chest pain". After that, they either received a stent or underwent a simulated procedure where no stent was implanted. They also received medications that relieve chest pain.

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 risky complications that can include heart attack, kidney injury, stroke and even death. The typical treatment for angina, or chest pain, is to thread a narrow catheter up from a blood vessel in the groin to the heart, squirt in a dye that allows a cardiologist to see blockages in arteries on X-rays, and then insert a stent in the blocked area, according to the New York Times(June 2015). They even go as far as to say that stenting may not even be useful in such cases where a patient's angina fails to improve after medication.

But six weeks later, both groups reported that they were experiencing less chest pain.

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"So though it is surprising, no difference was found in the two patient groups, this study confirms how good medical therapy is". It's a very humbling study for someone who puts in stents", said Brahmajee K Nallamothu, an interventional cardiologist at the University of Michigan.William E Boden, a cardiologist and professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine, called the results "unbelievable."David Maron, a cardiologist at Stanford University, praised the new study as "very well conducted" but said that it left some questions unanswered".

"I think this is a game-changer", Dr. Rita Redberg, a researcher and cardiologist at the University of California, San Francisco, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune, "I think we have some real explaining to do".

Just days ago, for example, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) warned that Abbot Vascular, Inc.'s Absorb G1 BVS System may expose patients to an increased risk of blood clots and adverse cardiac events.

That could mean that drug therapy alone, rather than the pricey, artery-opening devices, is all that's needed for certain patients, the researchers said.

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