Heart disease is the leading killer in America – about 790,000 Americans suffer heart attacks per year.
Heart stents are lifesaving when it comes to patients that suffer heart attacks, and were also thought to be effective in relieving chest pain. But a new study found out that when it comes to chest pain, heart stents are ineffective.
This study is quite a news that will shock a lot of people, as the small metal tubes and the insertion cost from $11,000 to $41,000 in the US.
On 1st November, the study – which was published in ‘thelancet.com’ – shows that these stents might be useless for those that have chest pain and might sometimes work due to a placebo effect.
The study used 200 patients that had acute chest pain and a severely blocked coronary artery. They were split into two groups and underwent a procedure: one group received a real insertion of a stent, while the other received a fake one. None of the patients knew who received the fake procedure and who didn’t receive it, as they all underwent the same procedure, but half of them were missing the device.
After six weeks, the researchers tested their patients and both groups reported fewer chest pains. They were put on treadmill tests and performed better than before. For those that had a blocked artery, the stents improved blood flow. But it looks like the ones that didn’t get the stent inserted, were feeling better by experiencing the placebo effect.
A cardiologist from Stanford University, Dr. David Maron, described the study to be well conducted, but he also said that there are some questions that must be answered.
The study assessed its subjects after only six months and these conclusions must not be applied to people that suffer from more severe heart diseases that could be solved by stents. The conclusions might also differ after a longer period, and perhaps there will be a difference between the ones that received the stents during the procedures and the subjects that didn’t receive them.
It seems that the result of this study has put a lot of cardiologists in a dilemma.
Dr. Nallamothu, for example, checked out the study and after looking at the report, he had second thoughts. He chose not to operate his patient the next day and explained to him why he didn’t need the stent.