Stents one of most overused medical interventions

Linda Brent, PhD

Executive Director, Parsemus Foundation

Read this before you or a loved one considers having a stent implanted! Doctors continue to overuse stents to treat stable coronary artery diseases despite numerous studies and medical guidelines indicating that they are no more effective at reducing the incident of death or heart attack than medication and lifestyle changes alone. A recent report by the Joint Commission and the American Medical Association list the use of stents (PCI or percutaneous coronary intervention) as one of five most overused medical interventions. The New York Times and other leading outlets recently questioned why doctors continue to prescribe this expensive procedure which entails health risks like stroke and heart attack. A prime motivator may be money. As doctors scramble to deal with reductions in healthcare cost recovery, more expensive procedures like angioplasty and stenting may win out over counseling and medication. Patients also erroneously believe that having a stent inserted to open a narrowed artery will avoid a future heart attack. We now know that cardiovascular disease does not work that way and ruptures in a vessel are instead more likely to happen at the site of a mild lesion.

What can you do? NewsMax suggests the following:
•Always get a second opinion, which in most cases is covered by Medicare or private health insurance.
•Look for a cardiologist experienced in treating heart disease without stenting.
•Talk to your doctor about different treatment options, including medications and lifestyle changes.

For more information on this topic, go to our page Angioplasty: Ending Inappropriate Use.

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