Largest study to date finds no difference in heart attack or mortality rates
SUNDAY, Nov. 4 (HealthDay News) -- In the largest study of its kind to date, Harvard researchers report that they have found drug-eluting stents pose no more risk of heart attack or death than bare metal stents do.
"There has been a long debate about the safety of drug-eluting stents," said lead investigator Dr. Laura Mauri, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham & Women's Hospital, in Boston. "It was very reassuring to see that there was not an increased rate of death or heart attack."
Mauri presented the findings during a news conference Sunday at the American Heart Association annual meeting in Orlando, Fla.
People who have blocked heart arteries often undergo a procedure called angioplasty, or percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI). A small tube called a catheter is inserted into the blood vessel, then a balloon on the tip of the catheter is inflated to open the blockage and restore blood flow. Typically, a stent, or tiny wire scaffold, is also inserted to keep the vessel open. However, stents carry the risk of blood clots forming within them -- a potentially dangerous condition called stent thrombosis.
It's clear that drug-eluting stents reduce the probability that a patient will need to undergo a repeat procedure within a year. However, there has been heightened concern in the medical community in the past year that coated stents seem to raise the risk of thrombosis.
"Drug-eluting stets reduced the need for revascularization procedures," Mauri said. "What's not clear is what are the long-term consequences of placing a drug-eluting stent versus a bare metal stent in a general population."
This trial took advantage of a statewide registry of people undergoing PCI procedures in Massachusetts.
"In Massachusetts, all patients who undergo stenting procedures, b
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