STENT: Do patients with Coronary Artery Disease really need it?

by S.G.B.Rao ,  LifeScienceWorld | 2013-03-14

Usually stents are made of metal mesh and are put in large arteries by surgery. Sometimes “Drug Eluding Stents” are used to slowly and continuously be released into the artery and help in preventing the artery from further blockages. But what if people didn't need it and a treatment that didn't involve surgery was enough?

A study called “ COURAGE “ (Clinical outcomes utilizing re-vascularisation and aggressive drug evaluation) performed on almost 2300 patients with stable coronary artery disease, chest pain showed. 
Half of the patients tested were given stents along with drugs and lifestyle alteration, while the other half only had drugs, diet and exercise.
Five years later, no statistical difference was noted between the two groups ( i.e. death, heart attacks or strokes). The only difference was in the "treatment cost" - for patients having stents the price of the treatment was increased by $15,000, the cost of the stent. 
The conclusion of the study was that if an individual does not have a life threatening cardiac event, he can do without the stent.
For many people drug treatment together with diet and moderate  exercise  can be as  effective as having a stent.
Stents are designed to be used when an individual faces artery blockages at a risk of more than 70%, but in India there are doctors who recommend a stent even if the blockage is less than 30%. In India, more than 3 million stents are used each year. 
According to studies worldwide, a stent placed in a narrowed artery has no special benefit compared to the standard medical care in the treatment of coronary heart disease by drugs and lifestyle changes.

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