Brain stents are intended to decrease the risk of stroke but they actually cause more harm than good, a new study shows.

Researchers found that patients at risk for a second stroke did better with medical treatment than those who received brain stents in addition to medical treatment.

The research was conducted in a nationwide clinical trial funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), which is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The trial involved 451 patients in 50 sites throughout the U.S.

The patients were between the ages of 30 and 80 and all were in the highest category for stroke risk, HealthDay reported. They either had experienced a stroke recently or experienced stroke-like symptoms.

Researchers found that 14.7 percent of patients who received a brain stent had a stroke or died within the first 30 days of enrollment, which is less than the 5.8 percent of patients who had a stroke or died after just receiving medical treatment.

Study enrollment was stopped early due to the occurrence of strokes and deaths in the stenting group.

We hypothesized that stenting would be more effective than medical therapy and found exactly the opposite, lead researcher Marc Chimowitz told HeathDay. In this population, given the results of the study, I would recommend aggressive medical management.

Patients who were put on a medical regimen fared better, the NIH reported. This included blood-thinning medications and managing blood pressure.

This study provides an answer to a longstanding question by physicians-what to do to prevent a devastating second stroke in a high risk population, NINDS deputy director Walter Koroshetz said in a NIH press release. Although technological advances have brought intracranial stenting into practice, we have now learned that, when tested in a large group, this particular device did not lead to a better health outcome.

The research is published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention note that stroke is one of the leading causes of deaths in the U.S. African Americans are more likely to get a stroke than whites, and African Americans and Hispanics are more likely to die from strokes than whites, according to the CDC.