Percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), more commonly known as heart stenting, appears to be linked to a higher risk of death than heart bypass surgery, according to the findings of a new study.
Researchers from the U.S., Canada, the U.K., and Italy published a report in the medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine on October 12, which links heart stent surgery to an increased risk of death from non-heart related problems, which they say may be procedure related.
A PCI is a type of heart stent used to widen the arteries when a person is suffering from narrowed arteries from coronary artery disease, or heart disease.
This study sought to evaluate the difference between all-cause mortality and cause-specific mortality among patients who received a heart stent and patients who underwent coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG). Researchers looked at data from MEDLINE, Embase and the Cochrane Library database, going back as far as 1946 in some cases, to evaluate various studies that have addressed the issue.
Researchers found 23 unique trials which involved 13,620 unique patients. Of those, 6,829 underwent PCI, and 6,791 underwent CABG. According to their findings, heart stents were linked to a 17% increased risk of all-cause mortality, which included a 24% increased risk of cardiac-related deaths and a 19% increased risk of noncardiac mortality.
“Percutaneous coronary intervention was associated with higher all-cause, cardiac, and noncardiac mortality compared with CABG at 5 years,” the researchers concluded. “The significantly higher noncardiac mortality associated with PCI suggests that even noncardiac deaths after PCI may be procedure related and supports the use of all-cause mortality as the end point for myocardial revascularization trials.”
Heart Stent Health Concerns
There is a long history of questions about the benefits and side effects of heart stents, including both bare metal and drug-eluting heart stents, with some research suggesting they can raise the risk of death, instead of lowering it. In addition, there have been concerns that heart stents are implanted in many cases where they are no medically needed, due to financial incentives for surgeons to recommend the procedures.
Prior studies have indicated heart stents can increase the risk of heart attacks and surgeries compared to a coronary bypass graft procedure.
One study published in 2018 indicated heart stents failed to relieve stable angina symptoms, one of the primary reasons for having a stent procedure. Another study indicated drug-releasing stents are no better at preventing deaths among heart patients than the bare metal stents. Both carry similar risks of death and side effects.