Saturday, April 2, 2011
For multiple heart blockages, bypass surgery or stents?
"For patients who have several blocked arteries around their heart, the gold standard treatment has long been coronary artery bypass surgery. Now a large clinical trial suggests that drug-coated stents, springy lattice tubes used to prop open clogged arteries, may also work well in patients with multiple blockages. And in some patients, the stents produce equally good results with faster recovery times. The caveats, experts say, are that people with daily or weekly chest pain from advanced coronary artery disease will probably experience slightly better relief from bypass surgery compared to stenting; but they can also count on waiting to get the full benefit of that procedure weeks to months longer than people who get stents. Experts say the study, which is published in The New England Journal of Medicine, brings to light important trade-offs that people with complex coronary artery disease need to weigh before making a decision between the two procedures