Many U.S. Heart Stents Inappropriate: Study

One in eight U.S. patients who have non-emergency stenting procedures to clear blocked arteries in the heart are likely to see more harm than good from the procedure, researchers said Tuesday. The findings stoke concern about overuse of the invasive treatment, which costs the nation some $12 billion a year and offers few benefits over drug therapy unless the patient has suffered a heart attack. “More than half of the inappropriate cases were in patients who didn’t have any symptoms at all,” said Dr. Paul Chan, whose results appear in the Journal of the American Medical Association. “If they are not benefiting, that’s a problem,” Chan, a cardiologist at Saint Luke’s Health System in Kansas City, Missouri, told Reuters Health. Each year in the U.S., about 600,000 stents — small metal mesh tubes — are inserted into ailing hearts to prop open blocked arteries, according to the new report.

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