July 14, 2010

Why stents for heart disease are unnecessary

Being a doctor, it always surprises people when I tell them one of the best ways to improve health care and lower costs in this country would be to simply not visit the doctor. Some people think I'm crazy for suggesting it. But the facts prove it.

Take, for instance, all the people who die because of prescription drugs, hospital infections, and unnecessary surgery. Had most of them stayed away from their doctor, they would still be alive. Well, the evidence against doctors and hospitals continues to grow.

The latest scandal in the heart disease world is stents. A new study in the New England Journal of Medicine has found that doctors may over-prescribe coronary artery stents. The report confirmed earlier studies that doctors overuse the procedure. They often use stents in non-emergent cases. Over one million patients have angioplasties annually in the U.S. Half of those are non-emergent.

To reach this conclusion, researchers compared angiograms to a new technique that measures coronary blood flow real time. The new evaluation determined that 5-10% of all stent patients do not need them at all. And in most of the other cases where stents might be indicated, management by drugs (or supplements) would fare just as well.

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Of course, the findings are complicated by the fact that the company making the blood flow wire testing device paid for the study. While that device (a wire) is expensive, it is still a lot less expensive than some pricey stents.

So what's a patient to do? I see no place for stents except in acute emergencies, like to attempt to stop a heart attack in progress. This is another clear example of the wanton waste in modern medicine. And unnecessary procedures carry a high complication rate.

If you have heart disease, please march to your nearest integrative physician who can help you reverse the problem. Yes, with therapies like basic lifestyle changes, supplements, chelation therapy, and oxidation therapy, you can reverse heart disease!

Associated Press, "Heart Stents May Be Overprescribed, Study Finds," January 14, 2009; NEJM January 14, 2010.

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