Heart Beat: 03/09
In patients who are to receive stents to treat their multivessel coronary artery disease, measuring their fractional flow reserve (FFR) prior to stenting can help lower the risk of heart attack and death by 35 percent, according to a study of more than 1,000 patients, published in the Jan. 15 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. In most cases, physicians use an angiogram to look at a lesion (blockage or narrowing in a blood vessel) and based on its size or severity, judge whether it should stented. In FFR, a tiny wire with a sensor is threaded through the vessel and blood flow to the heart is measured. Using FFR criteria, only if the pressure at the backside of the narrowing is 80 percent or less than what it is at the front of the blockage is the vessel stented. Researchers also noted that FFR also helps reduce the number of subsequent stent procedures or bypass grafts patients will need and eliminates the costs of stent procedures that may not be necessary.