New heart stent study: No impact on chest pain

Linda Brent, PhD

Executive Director, Parsemus Foundation

A carefully controlled study has reported that stents given to individuals with a severe blockage of an artery did not improve their pain or their performance in treadmill tests relative to individuals who did not receive stents. The research study, named ORBITA, used a randomization procedure in which half of the participants received a stent and the other half underwent a mock surgical procedure without implantation of a stent. To the surprise of many cardiologists, the outcome was identical in the two groups six weeks following the procedure. The New York Times reported that the study raises questions about whether individuals should seek other options for chest pain.

This research follows other studies that have led experts to call for reduction in the use of stents, and the need for evidence-based decision making in healthcare. For more information on stents and other over-used medical treatments, see Promoting Evidence-Based Medicine.

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