New study supports move toward medication for heart blockages without symptoms

Louisville heart doctor encourages patients to discuss the options with their interventional cardiologist before undergoing a procedure

A new study supporting medications for patients with severe but stable heart disease is in line with other evidence suggesting many can hold off on minimally invasive procedures or open-heart surgery, according to a Louisville cardiologist.

Lifestyle changes and medications such as statins for cholesterol, blood pressure medicine and aspirin can be just as effective at lowering the risk of heart attack or stroke as implanting a stent to address blockage or coronary bypass surgery, the study found.

Researchers at NYU Grossman School of Medicine and Stanford University School of Medicine studied more than 5,000 participants with blocked arteries whose condition was stable in the federally funded study.

“There is still strong evidence that in cases of a heart attack or when someone is experiencing symptoms, there are benefits to being stented or having bypass surgery,” said D. Sean Stewart, M.D., interventional cardiologist with Norton Heart & Vascular Institute.

Norton Heart & Vascular Institute

Our specialists treat more people for heart and vascular care — about 250,000 every year — than any other provider in Louisville and Southern Indiana.

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Invasive Procedures Better at Relieving Angina Symptoms

Millions of Americans suffer from angina, a form of chest pain that is usually caused by a blocked coronary artery. Many go on to have a stress test that shows they have low blood flow to the heart.

In those cases, implanting a stent or bypass surgery was more effective at relieving symptoms and improving quality of life for patients with angina, according to the study.

“I would encourage patients to have a conversation with their provider prior to a catheterization procedure,” Dr. Stewart said. “If a patient and their physician decided to try medical therapy, the patient must follow the medication guidelines, manage lifestyle changes and continue to follow up with their physician routinely.”

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