10 Things Doctors Have Reconsidered This Century

Stenting for Stable Coronary Artery Disease
Until 2006, many patients with stable angina (chest pain from overexertion) were given stents, tubular supports that prop open blocked arteries, but 2007 studies showed stents are helpful mainly for patients with unstable angina or heart attacks. PIXOLOGICSTUDIO/ Science Photo Library/Getty Images

If you develop stable coronary artery disease, also called stable angina, you'll notice chest pain when you exert yourself. This is because your arteries are narrow or blocked, reducing the amount of oxygen-rich blood your heart can receive. The pain will go away when you rest and reoccur when you exert yourself the same amount and/or the same amount of time.

Today's standard treatment for stable angina includes lifestyle changes (such as quitting smoking, losing weight and exercising) and medications, including aspirin, beta-blockers, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, angiotensin-receptor blockers and statins. But as recently as 2006, many patients with stable angina were also given stents, which are tubular supports that prop open your narrowed or blocked arteries, allowing more blood to reach your heart [source: Mitka]. Stents are placed during a procedure called angioplasty.

Stents are great when used in those who have had a heart attack or develop unstable angina, which is chest pain that occurs suddenly and frequently with little or no exertion. But studies dating from 2007 revealed stents don't offer any additional help at all if you've got stable angina. All you need are some lifestyle changes and maybe some of the medicines listed above [source: Mitka]. Good news for those who hate to go under the knife.

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