COURAGE at 15 years

Although PCI improves morbidity and mortality in the context of an acute coronary syndrome, the benefit of PCI in the setting of stable ischemic heart disease appears limited to symptom relief.  This was best demonstrated by the COURAGE trial that randomized 2287 patients with stable angina to either intensive medical therapy alone or medical therapy with PCI.  The study found symptom reduction was greater in the first 6 to 24 months following PCI, but PCI did not impact cardiovascular events or all cause survival.  A prior follow-up study of COURAGE patients suggested mortality at 5 years may have been trending toward benefit with PCI.  In the current study, 15 years of survival data was gathered on 1211 patients (53% of the original cohort) with nearly all of these patients coming from the U.S. Veterans Affairs system.  In this cohort, a total of 561 deaths had occurred in follow-up with 284 deaths (25%) in the PCI group and 277 (24%) in the medical-therapy group (HR, 1.03; 95% CI, 0.83 to 1.21; P=0.76); demonstrating no long-term survival advantage with PCI for stable ischemic heart disease. Data on cause of death and any additional therapies such as PCI or CABG outside of the initial 5yr trial period were unavailable.


Conclusions: In 15-year follow-up of approximately half of the original COURAGE trial cohort, there was no difference in mortality between those randomized to PCI and medical therapy.  Ongoing studies will inform whether PCI can improve outcomes beyond symptom burden when targeted to patients with significant demonstrable ischemia.


Summarized by Hussain Contractor and Steven M. Bradley


Sedlis SP, Hartigan PM, Teo KK, Maron DJ, Spertus JA, Mancini GB, Kostuk W, Chaitman BR, Berman D, Lorin JD, Dada M, Weintraub WS and Boden WE. Effect of PCI on Long-Term Survival in Patients with Stable Ischemic Heart Disease. N Engl J Med. 2015 Nov 12;373(20):1937-46.

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