Study: Multiple cardiac stents could prevent future heart attacks

When a patient succumbs to a heart attack, the cardiologist places a stent to open the offending artery. But adding multiple, preventive stents seems to produce better outcomes than just one, U.K. researchers conclude in a new study.

The New England Journal of Medicine published the new research conducted by the Golden Jubilee National Hospital and other U.K. heart centers. And it comes at an interesting time for the medical device industry. Companies have struggled to expand stent sales in a sluggish global market through a number of tweaks and improvements, including different stent sizes to accommodate patients with arteries of various sizes, and a push to develop stents that absorb back into the body after they release their drug coating. A study that connects multiple cardiac stents to improve patient outcomes could also result in more regular use of the devices.

No doubt, Abbott ($ABT), Boston Scientific ($BSX), Medtronic ($MDT) and other stent manufacturers around the world are studying these results closely. While more stents mean more stent sales, it wouldn't necessarily hike medical costs. Study senior author Keith Oldroyd of Golden Jubilee National Hospital noted in a statement that multiple stents would be more cost-effective for Britain's National Health Service. The idea is that more stents at the onset reduce health complications and added costs, later on.

For the study (dubbed PRAMI), researchers recruited 465 patients between 2008 and 2013. They found that patients who had preventive stents had a reduced chance of death by 64% over the next two years, versus patients who just received a stent in the offending artery. Those same patients also reduced their chance of having a second major heart attack or severe angina episodes over the same period.

Further, the rate of complications including procedure-related strokes and bleeding that needs transfusion or surgery remained similar in both patients with preventive stents and those that just treated the clogged artery.

"The PRAMI trial shows very clearly that patients have a much better outcome if these other narrowed arteries are stented at the same time as the one that triggered the attack," Oldroyd said.

- here's the release
- check out the NEJM article

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