SUNDAY, Nov. 7, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Coronary stents don't improve the long-term survival rates of heart patients, a Duke University Medical Center study contends.
The study did conclude the placement of stents in newly reopened coronary arteries reduces the need for repeat angioplasty procedures.
The findings could have major clinical and economic implications for doctors when they're making decisions about whether their heart patients should have coronary artery bypass surgery or angioplasty, which includes placement of a stent.
The study was presented Sunday at the American Heart Association's scientific sessions in New Orleans.
Stents are tiny mesh tubes that are placed at the location of coronary artery blockages that have been opened by balloon angioplasty. The stent is meant to prevent plaque from re-blocking the arteries. Stents were introduced into the United States in 1994.
"We have found in our long-term analysis that stents do provide a significant early and sustained reduction in the need for subsequent procedures to re-open the treated artery. However, we also found that stents do not have any influence on long-term survival," Duke cardiologist Dr. David Kandzari said in a prepared statement.
These findings are true even for the new generation of drug-eluting stents, which are coated with a drug that prevents blood clots from forming inside the stent.
Kandzari and his colleagues tracked, for an average of seven years, 1,288 matched pairs of patients who had either balloon angioplasty alone or balloon angioplasty and a stent.
They found that 19 percent of those who received a stent required another revascularization procedure in the treated artery, compared to 27 percent of those who didn't receive a stent. The long-term death rate for those who received a stent was 19.9 percent, compared to 20.4 percent for those who didn't receive a stent. The difference is not statistically significant, the researchers said.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has more about stents.