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No benefit to mechanically opening arteries days after a heart attack

NEW YORK, Nov. 14 In the days following a heart attack, patients who have no or mild symptoms and undergo a procedure called angioplasty to mechanically open their totally blocked coronary arteries do not reduce their risk of having another heart attack, going into heart failure, or dying, according to the results of a new study.

Opening arteries that are 100 percent blocked in the first 12 hours after a heart attack with angioplasty can quickly restore vital blood flow to the heart, and is considered optimal treatment for almost all patients. However physicians in the United States often open blocked coronary arteries with angioplasty in stable patients who are beyond this treatment window, although there aren't any definitive clinical trials addressing this practice.

The study, called the Occluded Artery Trial or OAT, evaluated whether opening arteries three to 28 days after a heart attack benefited patients over the long term. It was designed to provide definitive answers to questions about this practice.

"OAT was created to help resolve a controversy that affects more than 100,000 heart attack survivors each year in the U.S. alone," said Judith S. Hochman, M.D., Director of the Cardiovascular Clinical Research Center at NYU School of Medicine and the lead author of the new study. She estimated that some one-third of eligible patients do not receive therapy to open blocked arteries within the treatment window often because they arrive too late at the hospital.

The study is being published in an early on-line edition of the New England Journal of Medicine to coincide with a presentation of the results by Dr. Hochman on November 14 at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association in Chicago. The study, which was funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health, is expected to be published in Dec. 7, 2006, issue of the journal.

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Contact: Jennifer Choi
jennifer.choi@nyumc.org
212-404-3555
New York University Medical Center and School of Medicine
14-Nov-2006


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