In a February 11, 2010 article published in the Wall Street Journal the excessive use of coronary artery stents was exposed. The COURAGE trial, published in 2007, argued that 1 million PCI procedures are performed each year, with at least 30% being performed in stable CAD patients. Based on the COURAGE trial results, 300,000 of these procedures could be deferred.
U.S. could save $5 billion of the $15 billion it spends on stent procedures each year if all doctors followed Courage’s guidance—that is, putting certain heart patients on generic drugs and turning to stents only if the pains persists.
Most stent patients never receive a stress test to verify that a stenosed coronary artery is the cause of their chest pains, despite professional guidelines that urge such a test before stenting.