MULTIPLE artery procedures have been deemed a safe possibility for operations on heart attack patients. Treating more than one artery during cardiac arrest is feared to have an adverse effect on the heart, a concern addressed in a study by Dr Gerry McCann, National Institute for Health Research Fellow, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK. This reassuring news could have long-term benefits for patients.
Current heart attack treatment involves inserting a stent into the blocked artery of the patient. However, “up to 50% of patients treated for a blocked artery also have other narrowed, but not totally blocked heart arteries”, as Dr McCann stated. Despite concerns that a longer procedure and putting in more stents might cause the heart to be damaged further, recent studies have proposed that also treating the other narrowed arteries might be beneficial to the patients.
In order to determine the safety of this suggestion, a study was conducted on 203 heart attack patients, 105 of whom had only the blocked artery treated, and 98 of whom received stents into each narrowed artery. MRI scans were used to assess the amount of heart muscle damage that occurred as a result. Dr McCann reported that there was more frequent heart muscle damage in more than one area for those who had all the heart arteries treated (22%), compared with 11% in those who just had the blocked artery treated, but “the percentage of the heart that was damaged was not increased (12.6% versus 13.5%) and the heart function early and 9 months afterwards was similar with both treatments”.
This suggests that the total amount of heart damage will not be increased by multiple artery procedures. Those involved in the research suggest that it is safe for cardiologists to stent all narrowed arteries, but at the same time, advise that judgement is used to limit damage to the heart. Only those arteries deemed sufficiently narrowed by the surgeon should be stented. Overall, Dr McCann concluded that “the results of this study provide reassurance that specialists treating patients with a heart attack can open more than one narrowed artery without increasing the total amount of heart damage.”