Thousands of patients could be being denied the best chance of survival as a result of uncertainty over the most suitable treatment for heart disease, researchers have claimed.
A professor of cardiovascular surgery at the University of Oxford, David Taggart, has questioned the cost and clinical effectiveness of stenting over bypass surgery when attempting to improve the blood flow in patients suffering from coronary heart disease.
Two new studies published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) have argued that heart surgery is at least as effective and probably more cost-effective than stenting in the medium to long term, while a third report has claimed that the benefits of stenting over surgery are "too small to justify its additional costs".
Professor David Taggart wrote that the common preference for non-invasive stenting could be denying patients the chance of surviving for longer.
"This highlights the dangers of individual practitioners rather than multidisciplinary teams making recommendations for stenting in patients with multi-vessel disease," he wrote.
However, Professor Peter Weissberg, medical director at the British Heart Foundation, insisted that both surgery and stents are "very successful treatments".
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