Background: Coronary-stent implantation is frequently performed for treatment of acute myocardial infarction. However, few studies have compared stent implantation with primary angioplasty alone.
Methods: We designed a multicenter study to compare primary angioplasty with angioplasty accompanied by implantation of a heparin-coated Palmaz-Schatz stent. Patients with acute myocardial infarction underwent emergency catheterization and angioplasty. Those with vessels suitable for stenting were randomly assigned to undergo angioplasty with stenting (452 patients) or angioplasty alone (448 patients).
Results: The mean (+/-SD) minimal luminal diameter was larger after stenting than after angioplasty alone (2.56+/-0.44 mm vs. 2.12+/-0.45 mm, P<0.001), although fewer patients assigned to stenting had grade 3 blood flow (according to the classification of the Thrombolysis in Myocardial Infarction trial) (89.4 percent, vs. 92.7 percent in the angioplasty group; P=0.10). After six months, fewer patients in the stent group than in the angioplasty group had angina (11.3 percent vs. 16.9 percent, P=0.02) or needed target-vessel revascularization because of ischemia (7.7 percent vs. 17.0 percent, P<0.001). In addition, the combined primary end point of death, reinfarction, disabling stroke, or target-vessel revascularization because of ischemia occurred in fewer patients in the stent group than in the angioplasty group (12.6 percent vs. 20.1 percent, P<0.01). The decrease in the combined end point was due entirely to the decreased need for target-vessel revascularization. The six-month mortality rates were 4.2 percent in the stent group and 2.7 percent in the angioplasty group (P=0.27). Angiographic follow-up at 6.5 months demonstrated a lower incidence of restenosis in the stent group than in the angioplasty group (20.3 percent vs. 33.5 percent, P<0.001).
Conclusions: In patients with acute myocardial infarction, routine implantation of a stent has clinical benefits beyond those of primary coronary angioplasty alone.