News Release 

Additional heart artery stenting reduces risk of future heart attacks

University of Sheffield

  • Research shows that patients requiring emergency heart attack treatment also benefit from further intervention to reduce risk of future heart attacks
  • The international trial included 4000 patients, 713 of which were from the UK in investigations led by the University of Sheffield
  • The study shows that further stenting for additional arteries should be the standard treatment for heart attack patients whenever feasible

Research has shown that patients who have had emergency heart attack treatment with heart artery stenting - and have significant narrowings in their other untreated arteries - can benefit from additional stenting to help prevent future heart attacks.

A stent is a tiny mesh tube that is inserted into affected, or clogged, arteries and expands to keep them open, reducing the chance of further heart attacks by allowing the blood to flow more freely around the heart.

The results of the COMPLETE study, presented at the European Society of Cardiology meeting in Paris in September 2019 and simultaneously published in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed that patients who underwent routine additional stenting had a lower risk of further heart attacks or heart-related death, compared to those who had just usual tablet treatment for managing the untreated narrowings (7.8 per cent versus 10.5 per cent over five years). They also had less than one-fifth the risk of needing further emergency treatment for their heart arteries in the future.

As part of the international clinical trial of over 4000 patients, additional analysis of the study has been presented at the Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics (TCT 2019) meeting in San Francisco (Saturday 28 September 2019), looking at whether timing of the second stenting procedure - either during the same hospital admission or as a later outpatient procedure - was important in achieving the beneficial effects.

Similar benefits were seen regardless of whether the second procedure was performed as an in-patient or within six weeks as an outpatient.

Over 700 UK patients took part in the UK investigations led by Rob Storey, Professor of Cardiology at the University of Sheffield and Academic Director and Honorary Consultant Cardiologist in the Cardiology and Cardiothoracic Surgery Directorate at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Professor Storey, who was also a member of the executive team running the study, said: "We have made huge strides in the treatment of heart attack over the last 20 years with the development of new drugs and new stents continuously improving the effectiveness of heart artery stenting. For example, in Sheffield we have led the way in the development of ticagrelor, which has markedly reduced the risk of stent blockage and further heart attack, and this is now a standard treatment for heart attack around the world."

One of the questions that had remained unanswered until now was whether or not patients with significant narrowings elsewhere in their main heart arteries benefit from additional routine stenting of these narrowings immediately after they have had emergency treatment to open a blocked heart artery.

"The COMPLETE study answers this question emphatically, showing that further stenting should be the standard treatment for these patients whenever feasible," Professor Storey added.

"The results of our additional analysis shows that the dominant UK practice of bringing patients back as an outpatient for their second procedure was just as beneficial as performing the second procedure in hospital at the time of the initial hospital admission, since the benefits accrued over many years.

"So this strategy fits very well with UK best practice, since patients can return within a month or so for an outpatient stenting procedure and still receive the same benefit compared to staying in hospital as an inpatient longer after their heart attack for the second procedure. This marks another milestone in the relentless progress towards improving the long-term outlook of heart attack patients."

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Notes to editors:

  • The study can be viewed in full here.

  • The COMPLETE study was set up and coordinated by the Population Health Research Institute (PHRI) of Hamilton Health Sciences and McMaster University, Ontario, Canada.

  • The Principal Investigator was Professor Shamir R. Mehta, McMaster University, Hamilton Health Sciences, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada and the Co-Principal Investigator was Professor David Wood, University of British Columbia, Vancouver General Hospital, British Columbia, Canada. The other members of the Executive (Operations) Committee were Professor John Cairns, University of British Columbia, Vancouver General Hospital, British Columbia, Canada; Professor Robert Storey, University of Sheffield, UK; and Professor Roxanna Mehran, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, USA.

  • Across the world, 31 countries participated and recruited patients into the study, which was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, with additional support from AstraZeneca, Boston Scientific, and the PHRI.

  • A total of 4,041 patients took part in the study, of whom 713 were included from 17 UK heart attack centres.

The University of Sheffield

With almost 29,000 of the brightest students from over 140 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the world's leading universities.

A member of the UK's prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.

Unified by the power of discovery and understanding, staff and students at the university are committed to finding new ways to transform the world we live in.

Sheffield is the only university to feature in The Sunday Times 100 Best Not-For-Profit Organisations to Work For 2018 and for the last eight years has been ranked in the top five UK universities for Student Satisfaction by Times Higher Education.

Sheffield has six Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and its alumni go on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.

Global research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, AstraZeneca, Glaxo SmithKline, Siemens and Airbus, as well as many UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.

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