Heart stents and chest pain; new data suggests they don’t relieve pain in most patients.
Chest pain from clogged arteries is a fear many of us have as we age. Heart attacks are the leading killer of close to 800,000 people per year in the USA alone and stents are installed in 500,000 internationally each year to relieve chest pain alone.
The procedure that is the least invasive way to relieve that pain and prevent a heart attack is known as a stent, which is a cage that is inserted into the artery to open it up. Opening up the harts clogged arteries can prevent a fatal heart attack.
Heart attacks are caused by a lack of blood flow to the muscles in the heart. The attack is caused by starving the heart of oxygen caused by a clogged blood vessel within the heart. Stents are known to save lives and are commonly inserted with an incision through the groin and then threaded up through the heart.
A new study in the Journal Lancet is now suggesting that the stents, in use since the 1990’s can save lives but they do not relive cardiac pain. In other words, your risk of a heart attack has been markedly reduced by the stent which improves blood flow but the pain experienced by the clog may not go away with the use of the stent.
Doctors are not sure why patients do not get relief of pain after a stent is placed in the artery, but double blind studies suggest that some that feel relief were treated with a placebo and did feel improvement, even though the treatment for them was not a treatment at all.
Insurers will undoubtedly look at this study and begin to question the medical necessity of using a stent for pain relief. According to the NY Times, hospitals charge anywhere from 11,000 – 41,000 to install them.
Is it possible that many of these patients who continue to have pain may have it from the musculoskeletal system. We can not ignore this possibility which quite commonly treated by the chiropractic profession. Should cardiologists be better trained to be able to rule out the musculoskeletal system, since it may be a possible cause of chest pain?
Check out this article in the NY Times.
Unbelievable’: Heart Stents Fail to Ease Chest Pain
By GINA KOLATANOV. 2, 2017
A procedure used to relieve chest pain in hundreds of thousands of heart patients each year is useless for many of them, researchers reported on Wednesday.
Their study focused on the insertion of stents, tiny wire cages, to open blocked arteries. The devices are lifesaving when used to open arteries in patients in the throes of a heart attack.
But they are most often used in patients who have a blocked artery and chest pain that occurs, for example, walking up a hill or going up stairs. Sometimes patients get stents when they have no pain at all, just blockages.
Heart disease is still the leading killer of Americans — 790,000 people have heart attacks each year — and stenting is a mainstay treatment in virtually every hospital. More than 500,000 heart patients worldwide have stents inserted each year to relieve chest pain, according to the researchers. Other estimates are far higher.