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No benefit to mechanically opening arteries days after a heart attack

p>A trial on five continents

The OAT study involved 217 sites on five continents. It enrolled 2,166 patients who had a completely blocked coronary artery causing their heart attack, which was identified after the early phase of the heart attack. All of the patients were in stable condition. They were randomly assigned by computer to receive balloon angioplasty and stents plus medical therapy or medical therapy alone three to 28 days after their heart attack. Researchers tracked their health for an average of three years after the heart attack.

There was no statistically significant difference between the two groups in the occurrence of death, heart attacks, or heart failure in up to five years of follow up, according to the study. The researchers also observed a "worrisome" trend toward excess rates of repeat heart attack in the group receiving the angioplasty and stents. Dr. Hochman said that further analysis and longer follow up is necessary to understand this observation, which did not reach the level of statistical significance, so it could have been due to chance alone.

Dr. Hochman speculated that opening a totally blocked artery in a patient who has collateral blood flow may interfere with the ability of the collateral vessels to rapidly supply blood if the opened (stented) artery re-closes. "It seems that total occlusion is a stable situation and this may be converted to a potential risk for recurrent heart attack if the artery is opened and then re-occludes," she said. In addition, it is possible that some heart muscle may be damaged due to dislodging of clots and plaque at the time of the angioplasty procedure, counteracting other potential long-term benefits.


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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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