Doctors Giving Too Many Angioplasties

Study finds common heart treatment overused
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 6, 2011 3:25 PM CDT
A surgeon holds a model of a heart.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Doctors are performing too many angioplasty procedures on patients who haven’t had heart attacks, according to a new study. Around 600,000 angioplasties are performed each year, of which roughly 70% are performed on heart attack victims. Those are fine, the study concludes, but of the remaining 30%, half were OK, 38% were deemed questionable, and 12% labeled outright inappropriate, according to the Wall Street Journal.

A study in 2007 found that angioplasty wasn’t any more effective than a (far cheaper) cocktail of drugs at treating chronic chest pains. “This tends to confirm concerns that many people have expressed—that there are many thousands of patients who undergo coronary interventions for very questionable indications,” says one cardiologist. The study also found a “huge variation” among hospitals, with some performing very few inappropriate procedures, and others performing many.

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