Over-Use of Drug-Eluting Stents Found

A review of more than 1.5 million percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) procedures documented in the National Cardiovascular Data Registry has found that cardiologists are “routinely over-using” drug-eluting stents versus bare-metal stents for patients at low risk for repeat blockages of arteries. The study, published online in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that DES use was high whether the patient was at high or low risk for restenosis. Drug-eluting stents are more costly than bare-metal stents and require patients to take blood thinners or aspirin after the procedure. Reducing DES use by 50 percent, say the researchers, could lower healthcare costs in the United States by as much as $205 million annually while at the same time, increasing the overall risk for vessel revascularization by only .05 percent. Lead author for the study is Amit P. Amin, MD, assistant professor in the Cardiovascular Division at Washington University School of Medicine. His research was conducted a fellow at Saint Luke’s Mid-America Heart Institute in Kansas City.