Research offers reassurance over multiple artery procedures for heart attack victims

A new study led by Dr Gerry McCann, NIHR Career Development Fellow from the University and Leicester's Hospitals, has examined the effects on the heart of treating multiple narrowed arteries - rather than just one – at the time of a heart attack.

Specialist heart doctors increasingly treat patients with large heart attacks urgently with a procedure under local anaesthetic. The blocked blood vessel (artery), which causes the heart attack is opened by inserting a small metal scaffold (stent) at the blockage to hold the artery open.

The new study has examined whether treating more than one artery has an adverse effect on the heart.

Dr McCann said: “We assessed the amount of heart muscle damage that occurred with MRI scans. Patients who had all the heart arteries treated had more than one area of heart muscle damage more frequently (22% v 11%) than those who just had the blocked artery treated.  However, the percentage of the heart that was damaged was not increased (12.6% v 13.5%) and the heart function early and nine months afterwards was similar with both treatments.

“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.”

The research is published in JACC, the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. The work was funded by the Efficacy and Mechanism Evaluation Programme, an MRC and NIHR partnership. It is a sub study of the CvLPRIt trial that was also led by Leicester Professor Tony Gershlick and funded by the British Heart Foundation.