Study: PCI procedures ineffective at treating chest pain

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Cardiovascular stents intended to relieve chest may not be effective at all for a good number of patients they’re implanted in, according to a new study reported yesterday by the New York Times.

The study, published in the Lancet, examined the use of stents to open blocked arteries to treat chest pain, often experienced during exercise, according to the report.

Results from the study stood in stark contrast to existing medical evidence and call into question the use of stents for treating chest pain, the Times reports.

In the blinded, randomized, study, researchers compared percutaneous coronary interventions against a placebo procedure for the symptomatic relief in stable angina.

A total of 105 patients received PCI treatments, while 95 were assigned to the placebo cohort, receiving a sham procedure that closely mirrored the PCI.

All patients in the trial were treated for six weeks to reduce heart attack risk, as well as with other medications to reduce chest pain by either slowing the heart or opening blood vessels, according to the Times.

According to the results, there was no significant difference in the primary endpoint of exercise time increment between the two groups. Both groups reported improved outcomes and lowered pain after the sham and PCI procedures, according to the report.

“In patients with medically treated angina and severe coronary stenosis, PCI did not increase exercise time by more than the effect of a placebo procedure. The efficacy of invasive procedures can be assessed with a placebo control, as is standard for pharmacotherapy,” study authors wrote.

Currently, guidelines recommend the use of stenting for treating patients with blocked arteries and chest pain who’ve already tried other treatment methodologies, according to the report. But those guidelines were mostly based off of patient reports.

“All cardiology guidelines should be revised,” Dr. David Brown of Washington University School of Medicine and Dr. Rita Redberg of the University of California, San Francisco wrote in an editorial, according to the Times.

Another study is underway looking to determine whether medications can be as effective as stunting and coronary bypasses in preventing heart attacks, according to the report.

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