NEJM: Early stent use worked better for some than drug treatment alone

Using stents early can better help some patients with narrowed arteries compared to medical therapy alone, according to a new study co-sponsored by St. Jude Medical ($STJ) and published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The trial tested the use of fractional flow reserve (FFR) to determine the best treatment option for a narrowed artery. What they found was that 4.3% of 888 patients involved in the study who were randomized to drug-eluting stents and medical therapy experienced some kind of cardiac event that required a hospital visit or emergency stent. That was compared to 12.7% of patients who experienced similar problems after just receiving medical therapy.

The study finished early in January, because of the high rates of hospitalization and emergency stenting required for patients who only received the medical therapy option. Researchers wanted to explore how useful FFR is as a diagnostic tool to determine treatment for clogged arteries because it is relatively inexpensive--$700 per use, versus $2,000 for the average stent, they note.

Researchers from Cardiovascular Center Aalst in Belgium and Stanford University conducted the study. Stanford also co-sponsored the effort. Researchers noted that St. Jude owns Radi Medical Systems in Sweden, one of two companies that makes technology used in the trial.

- read the release
- check out the NEJM study

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