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Heart Attack Care: Drugs vs. Stents

Analysis Shows Drugs After Heart Attack Are Effective and Reduce Costs

Quality of Life and Treatment Costs continued...

Four months after enrollment, the stent patients did report less chest pain and scored higher on quality-of-life assessments. But the differences were small and they had disappeared altogether within a year, Mark says.

"We saw no discernable differences in what patients said they were able to do or in any other major measure of quality of life and well-being," he says.

The average cost of hospital and physician care during the first 30 days of treatment was calculated to be $22,859 per patient treated with balloon angioplasty and stenting vs. $12,683 for the medical therapy group.

Over two years of treatment, medical costs among patients treated with angioplasty and stents were an average of $7,000 higher than patients who did not get angioplasty and stents.

It should be emphasized again that the patients enrolled in the OAT trial were all stable and without symptoms. Balloon angioplasty and stenting "does not appear beneficial for this highly selected group ... but that doesn't mean that patients who are very impaired or have poor quality of life and angina will not benefit," study researcher Judith S. Hochman, MD, of New York University School of Medicine, tells WebMD.

National Heart Lung and Blood Institute senior cardiologist George Sopko, MD, tells WebMD that the OAT trial highlights the importance of seeking treatment early when heart attack symptoms occur.

"When someone is having a heart attack, time is of the essence," he says. "We know that if we can reopen blocked arteries and provide adequate blood flow within the first hour or so the patient will usually have minimal damage."

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