Harvard Health Letter

Vascular stent now, stable later?

A stent while you're stable may prevent urgent care.

For some people with stable coronary artery disease (CAD), having a stent or stents put in now along with standard medical therapy significantly reduces the need for emergency interventions later, compared to treating stable CAD with medications alone. Those are the main findings in a study known as FAME 2 published recently in the New England Journal of Medicine. "I believe the conclusions, since they mirror daily practice: If a patient has a severe blockage seen during a (special procedure called a) heart catheterization and it is left alone, their risk of coming back in an emergency situation is increased," says Dr. Deepak Bhatt, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

CAD and stenting

Stable coronary artery disease (CAD) refers to narrowing or blockages in heart arteries that result in symptoms such as chest discomfort during physical exertion. Sometimes there are no symptoms at all. This is different from unstable CAD, such as chest pain at rest or a heart attack. Stable CAD, in a proportion of patients, becomes unstable.

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