Are drugs as effective as PCI for patients with stable coronary artery disease?
Medical, or drug, therapy is the first line of treatment for patients with stable coronary artery disease. These patients have continuing symptoms that remain consistent and, as a result, become predictable. For example, a stable coronary artery disease patient would know that carrying the groceries or walking up a particular hill on the golf course will leave him or her short of breath. For some of these patients, drug therapy may be the most effective treatment, depending on health history, current health status, lifestyle expectations (such as the desire to participate in physical activities without chest pain or shortness of breath) and tolerance of and compliance with prescribed medications. PCI may be a more effective, long-term treatment for patients who find that the medications are poorly tolerated or do not treat their symptoms. Some patients also develop “unstable symptoms,” such as a more frequent chest pressure or pressure at rest from their coronary artery disease. Cardiologists often recommend PCI for these patients.