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Doctors Hid Data on Stent Deaths

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

heart stent

Story at-a-glance -

  • The Excel trial, which was sponsored by U.S. stent manufacturer Abbott, compared the use of drug-eluting stents to coronary-artery bypass grafting (CABG)
  • The results suggested the two procedures were equivalent in terms of deaths that occurred among patients after three years
  • The results, however, didn’t show the full picture, as at the time of the study’s publication, the researchers had access to data from five years’ prior
  • There was evidence that the stents were deadlier than CABG, but the researchers chose to only look at the data up to three years — and not a day after
  • When the five-year data were factored in, there was evidence that stents were causing more deaths than bypass surgery
  • A number of surgical organizations and others have called for an independent review of the raw data used in the trial, and the researchers have agreed, but there is concern that the reviewers may not be independent

A stent is a wire mesh tube that may be implanted into a coronary artery during a percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), or angioplasty, procedure. It’s intended to treat a clogged artery, which has reduced blood flow due to a buildup of fatty deposits, or plaque. The blockage can lead to a heart attack, but the stent helps to prevent this by expanding the artery and holding it open, improving blood flow to the heart.

According to the American Heart Association, in over one-third of patients who have an angioplasty without a stent, the artery becomes narrowed again within months, in a process known as restenosis. As such, most angioplasties include stents.


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