Will lifestyle changes and medicine work as well as a cath lab and stents? USF Health investigates.

Patients with heart blockage may qualify for study

TAMPA, Fla. - Fran Oberne has coronary artery disease. Her problems with blockages in her heart started five years ago. Doctors inserted three stents in those clogged arteries. "Some of those stents were re-blocked and they put stents inside of my stents," said Oberne.

Dr. Arthur Labovitz, Chief of USF Health's cardiovascular program, is hoping to find out whether lifestyle changes and medications, a more conservative therapy, may be as effective as the standard procedure of cardiac catheterization and inserting stents. "Recent studies have shown us that people do not live longer necessarily when you put a stent in. And because medicines are so much better these days we're looking at whether medical therapy can do as good as a stent," said Dr. Labovitz.

He's currently enrolling patients for a study. "It's very simple enrollment criteria. That is if you have an abnormal stress test and you consent to be enrolled, you would then be randomized to either have what we call aggressive therapy, which is the cardiac catheterization and a stent if indicated, or conservative therapy, and that is medicine," Dr. Labovitz said.

Patients will be followed closely for four years to see if they develop chest pain and whether they require hospitalization down the road. The results of the trial could change the way ischemia or blockages are treated. Placing stents is not only more invasive, Doctor Labovitz says, but also more expensive.

For more information on the ischemia trial, go to: www.ischemiatrial.org and www.clinicaltrials.gov .

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