By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Popular heart procedures could be going down dramatically. The study comes from the Heart Association meeting here in Philadelphia.

New research says stents for coronary artery disease are no more effective than drugs for stable heart disease.

It’s estimated more than 1.8 million stents are implanted each year. The intervention props open a blocked artery and restores proper blood flow, but stents only work at a specific site.

The new study looked at more than 5,000 people with blocked arteries, but without severe symptoms like extreme pain or heart attack.

It found that regularly taking medications, along with lifestyle changes, was just as effective at preventing heart attacks and premature deaths as more invasive procedures.

Those medications include statins, blood pressure drugs and aspirin therapy.

The research also found that interventions with stents did not reduce the risk of death. There were similar outcomes for patients treated with just medications and lifestyle changes.

It’s expected the number of stent procedures being performed in the future will be declining following this research.

Stephanie Stahl