Saturday, February 6, 2010

Is Angioplasty worth it?

An article from the New York Times looks at drug-coated stents and angioplasty and questions whether these high cost procedures are more beneficial than harmful and conclude that for some patients, stents are not worth it. As the Time articles notes, there is little scientific data that suggests angioplasty reduces heart attacks or extends life for most patients, let alone whether the stent is drug coated or not.

So why are they so popular. Part of it has to do with monetary incentives and part has to do with patient preferences. Physicians get paid to perform angioplasty procedures and patients with partially clogged arteries want something done. Physicians fearing possible lawsuits by not doing something pro-active to help - well try to help, even though the evidence does not back up the amount of angioplasty. And we are left with higher medical costs for a procedure that does not seem to even pass a cost-effectiveness analysis.

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