A new major federally funded study released Saturday at The American Heart Association's annual scientific conference found that stents and coronary bypass surgery are no more effective than drug treatment and better health habits in preventing heart attacks.
The study's results primarily pertain to people who have narrowed coronary arteries, but are not actually suffering acute symptoms. Typically in those cases, doctors will implement a stent or perform bypass surgery to redirect blood around a blockage even when patients don't show any symptoms or feel any discomfort when they exert themselves, The Wall Street Journal reports. But, per the new study, these interventions aren't actually more successful than cholesterol-lowering drugs and other changes in health habits.
"You won't prolong life," Judith Hochman, the chair of the study, said.
Stents and surgery do, however, work better for relieving symptoms related to frequent chest pain, the study found.
The results of the study, while likely to increase debate between preventative and interventional cardiologists, do provide further evidence that caution is a-okay in many circumstances. "This shows the safety of not panicking when you see a positive stress test," said Jay Giri, a practicing interventional cardiologist. Read more at The Associated Press and The Wall Street Journal. Tim O'Donnell