Massive study shows bypass surgery, stents no more effective than drugs for stable heart disease

by Adam Ford · Nov 17th, 2019 8:35 am
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Last Updated Nov 20th, 2019 at 4:10 pm

A major, federally funded study has shown that some common invasive heart surgeries, while more effective at reducing chest pain, are no better than drugs and lifestyle changes alone at preventing heart attacks and death in patients with stable heart disease.

The Washington Post reports:

Researchers found that invasive procedures to unclog blocked arteries — in most cases, the insertion of a stent, a tiny mesh tube that props open a blood vessel after artery-clearing angioplasty — were measurably better than pills at reducing patients’ chest pain during exercise. But the study, called ISCHEMIA, found no difference in a constellation of major heart-disease outcomes, including cardiac death, heart attacks, heart-related hospitalizations and resuscitation after cardiac arrest. There was no benefit to an invasive strategy in people without chest pain.

Overall, the keenly anticipated ISCHEMIA study results suggest that invasive procedures, stents and bypass surgery, should be used more sparingly in patients with stable heart disease and the decision to use them should be less rushed, experts said.

“This is a milestone study that people will talk about and write about for years to come,” said Elliott Antman, a cardiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

🔦 The results of the $100 million study were highly anticipated, as they were expected to shed light on a heated and long-standing controversy in cardiology revolving around how to treat artery blockages.


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