Take it to heart

Stents or bypass surgeries might not be needed for patients with stable heart disease who don't have symptoms of chest pain.

Researchers say they have the answer to a question that has long plagued heart doctors: What is the best treatment for patients with stable heart disease who have no chest pain?

Is it medications and lifestyle advice alone, or those along with invasive surgical procedures?

The former won out, according to a study led by Stanford and New York University researchers that was announced at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions in November.

Medications and advice — such as improving diet, exercising and not smoking — proved just as beneficial as also undergoing such invasive procedures as bypass surgery or stent implantation.

“I think these results should change clinical practice,” said Stanford clinical professor David Maron, MD, co-chair of the trial. “It’s hard to justify putting stents into patients who are stable and have no symptoms.”