Study Finds Angioplasty/Stents Beneficial Only Within 12 Hours of Heart Attack
MedSun: Newsletter #10, December 2006

The New York Times (November 14, 2006) has reported on a new study that challenges the conventional wisdom on when to conduct angioplasty in the setting of a heart attack. “Opening a blocked artery with balloons and stents can be lifesaving in the early hours after a heart attack,” writes Denise Grady, “but a new study concludes that it often does no good if the heart attack occurred more than 25 hours ago.”

Results of a clinical trial that measured the effectiveness of angioplasty and heart stents in 2,166 patients at 217 hospitals in the United States and abroad should change medical practice, researchers say, and may affect up to 50,000 patients a year in this country. Dr. Judith S. Hochman, director of the cardiovascular clinical research center at New York University medical school and leader of the study, presented findings from the 3-year clinical trial to the November 14 meeting of the American Heart Association. The New England Journal of Medicine published the results online and will cover the story in its December 7, 2006, issue.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health, which helped pay for the research, reports that about a million angioplasties are performed in the United States each year. The Times notes that Dr. Hochman emphasizes that “angioplasty is still the best treatment for many … patients who get to the hospital … within 12 hours of the onset of the attack. For them, (angioplasty) can restore blood flow and reduce damage to the heart muscle.

After 12 hours, however, it is too late to save the muscle.”

Additional Information:

Ms. Grady’s article appears in full at The New York Times Web site

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