Aims: To evaluate the effect of drug-eluting vs. bare metal stents for the treatment of coronary artery disease on overall, cardiac, and non-cardiac mortalities.
Methods and results: We conducted a systematic literature search to identify all randomized controlled trials comparing sirolimus or paclitaxel-eluting stents with bare metal stents and reporting mortality data after at least 1 year of follow-up. Trial data were reviewed and extracted independently by two investigators in an unblinded standardized manner. Seventeen trials including a total of 8221 patients were analysed. Peto's odds ratios (ORs) for total mortality after 1 (n=8221), 2 (n=4631), 3 (n=4105), and 4 (n=1293) years of follow-up were 0.94 [95% confidence interval (CI) 0.66-1.34], 1.11 (95% CI 0.76-1.61), 1.25 (95% CI 0.91-1.73), and 1.46 (95% CI 0.92-2.31), respectively. Corresponding ORs for non-cardiac mortality were 1.07 (95% CI 0.64-1.80), 1.72 (95% CI 1.01-2.94), 1.45 (95% CI 0.93-2.25), and 1.65 (95% CI 0.89-3.10). There was no difference in OR for cardiac mortality among all trials. In sensitivity analyses, sirolimus- but not paclitaxel-eluting stents were associated with an increase in non-cardiac mortality at 2 and 3 years of follow-up.
Conclusion: Drug-eluting stents for the treatment of coronary artery disease do not reduce total mortality when compared with bare metal stents. Preliminary evidence suggests that sirolimus- but not paclitaxel-eluting stents may lead to increased non-cardiac mortality. Long-term follow-up and assessment of cause-specific deaths in patients receiving drug-eluting stents is mandatory to determine the long-term safety of these devices.