You never like to read news like this, but, this is the sad state of modern medicine. According to the Associated Press a new study has determined that a lot of angioplasties preformed every year are unneeded:
More than half a million people a year with chest pain are getting an unnecessary or premature procedure to unclog their arteries because drugs are just as effective, suggests a landmark study that challenges one of the most common practices in heart care.Now, Dr. Fuhrman is not about to subscribe to the “try drugs first” adage, but, he’s no fan of the angioplasties either. In fact, he discusses their problems in Cholesterol Protection For Life:
The stunning results found that angioplasty did not save lives or prevent heart attacks in non-emergency heart patients.
An even bigger surprise: Angioplasty gave only slight and temporary relief from chest pain, the main reason it is done.
"By five years, there was really no significant difference" in symptoms, said Dr. William Boden of Buffalo General Hospital in New York. "Few would have expected such results."
He led the study and gave results Monday at a meeting of the American College of Cardiology. They also were published online by the New England Journal of Medicine and will be in the April 12 issue.
Angioplasty remains the top treatment for people having a heart attack or hospitalized with worsening symptoms. But most angioplasties are done on a non-emergency basis, to relieve chest pain caused by clogged arteries crimping the heart's blood supply.
Those patients now should try drugs first, experts say. If that does not help, they can consider angioplasty or bypass surgery, which unlike angioplasty, does save lives, prevent heart attacks and give lasting chest pain relief.
Bypass surgery and angioplasty only attempt to treat a small segment of the diseased heart, usually with only temporary benefit. Since atherosclerotic plaque blankets all the vessels in the heart, bypassing or removing the most diseased portion, still does not address all the shallow and non-obstructive lipid deposits. The major burden of disease is left intact and therefore the potential for a deadly heart attack is largely unaffected. The vast majority of patients who undergo these interventions do not have fewer new heart attacks or longer survival. The procedures themselves expose the patients to more risk of new heart attacks, strokes, infection, encephalopathy, and death. In addition, the symptomatic benefits erode with time.
Since these mechanical interventions do not address the cause of the disease and only treat the symptoms it is not surprising that the patients undergoing bypass and angioplasty experience disease progression, graft shutdown, restenosis, and more procedures because their heart disease continues to advance. The vast majority of these treated patients needlessly die prematurely from heart disease because their disease remains essentially untreated.