Scientists find new way to reduce risk of future heart attacks

In a new study, researchers found patients who have had emergency heart attack treatment with heart artery stenting—and have significant narrowings in their other untreated arteries—can benefit from additional stenting to help prevent future heart attacks.

The research was conducted by a team from the University of Sheffield.

A stent is a tiny mesh tube that is inserted into affected, or clogged, arteries and expands to keep them open, reducing the chance of further heart attacks by allowing the blood to flow more freely around the heart.

In the study, the team examined over 700 UK patients and showed that patients who underwent routine additional stenting had a lower risk of further heart attacks or heart-related death, compared to those who had just usual tablet treatment for managing the untreated narrowings.

These patients also had less than one-fifth the risk of needing further emergency treatment for their heart arteries in the future.

As part of the international clinical trial of over 4000 patients, an additional analysis of the study examined whether the timing of the second stenting procedure—either during the same hospital admission or as a later outpatient procedure—was important in achieving the beneficial effects.

Similar benefits were seen regardless of whether the second procedure was performed as an in-patient or within six weeks as an outpatient.

The team says scientists have made huge strides in the treatment of heart attack over the last 20 years with the development of new drugs and new stents continuously improving the effectiveness of heart artery stenting.

The current study shows that further stenting should be the standard treatment for these patients whenever feasible.

The lead author of the study is Rob Storey, Professor of Cardiology at the University of Sheffield.

The study is published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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