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Drug Therapy for Artery Disease Underused, Study Says
Date:5/10/2011

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, May 10 (HealthDay News) -- Fewer than 50 percent of people scheduled to have a stent placed in one of their coronary arteries for stable coronary artery disease received so-called optimal medical therapy -- drug therapy, such as statins -- before the procedure, according to new research.

This finding comes despite previous research, published in the New England Journal of Medicine four years ago, that found that optimal medical therapy was similarly effective to the stent procedure in preventing future cardiac problems.

That study was dubbed the COURAGE trial, and it included heart centers from across the United States. The study cost $33.5 million to conduct, and researchers hoped their findings would prompt more doctors to try medical therapy first in people with stable heart disease.

"The data shows that results are similar whether you treat with a stent or with medications in those with stable coronary disease," said the lead author of the new study, Dr. William Borden, a cardiologist at the Perelman Heart Institute at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City.

"When we looked at results before and after the COURAGE trial, the release of COURAGE didn't change practice patterns, and it seems that this is a real opportunity to look at how we deliver care to patients. For doctors, we need to make sure patients are on optimal medical therapy first. And, for policy makers, this study is an opportunity to look at how medical research trials are being translated into practice," Borden added.

Results of the new study are published in the May 11 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

To get a better idea of how clinical trial results translate into practice, Borden and his colleagues reviewed data from the National Cardiovascular Data Registry on patients who were scheduled to undergo percuta
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