Stent procedures could save lives

A preventive procedure could cut the risk of death and complications from heart attacks.


When someone has a heart attack caused by a blocked artery, the standard procedure is to unblock the artery that supplies blood to the heart using a tube called a ‘stent’. Some people who have this operation also have other arteries that are narrowed, which could become blocked in future and cause another heart attack.

Researchers from the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, examined whether inserting stents in other narrowed arteries, during the initial operation as a preventive measure, reduced the risk of a future heart attack.  This was referred to as a "preventive" PCI.

They found that patients who had the preventive procedure were about two-thirds less likely to have another heart attack than those who only had surgery on the blocked artery. 

The study results do not apply to all patients who have had a heart attack, just those called ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) who could be treated with stenting. The results would not apply to patients with non-STEMI or those who need a different type of heart operation.

Katharine Jenner, Chief Executive of Blood Pressure UK says “This is potentially another leap forward in preventing further heart attacks from occurring.   It is important that doctors have a wide range of options open to them when considering what the best preventive treatment is for their patients.”

Click below for the paper in the New England Journal of Medicine:

Wald D, Morris J, Wald N et al. Randomized Trial of Preventive Angioplasty in Myocardial Infarction. The New England Journal of Medicine. Published online September 1 2013

With thanks to NHS Behind the Headlines