TOO MANY ANGIOPLASTIES

Most people have heard of a “coronary angioplasty”, or just angioplasty for short. Maybe you or someone in your family or a neighbor has submitted to the procedure. An angioplasty is a medical procedure used to open blocked or narrowed coronary (heart) arteries, to to improve blood flow to the heart muscle. But, have you heard the latest news about this procedure?

Outside of heart attacks, doctors are often too quick to use a common $20,000 procedure to treat patients suffering from coronary artery disease.

These are not my words describing the prelevance of this medical procedure but the conclusion reached by the Wall Street Journal after reviewing the results of a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in July. In the study, the cardiologist who was the lead author of the study concluded:

The procedure was “inappropriate” for one out of every eight patients who submitted to the angioplasty.

Why is this significant? Lets do the math. Somewhere between 600,000 and 1 million angioplasties are performed in the U.S. every year. If one out of every 8 angioplasties (12%) were “inappropriate” then somewhere between 75,000 and 125,000 patients received an inappropriate procedure.

Why should you care? Angioplasties are not risk free medical procedures…they can lead to death. The recognized complications from an angioplasty include:

* Serious bleeding
* Heart or lung problems, including:
* Irregular heart rhythms
* Lung or heart failure
* Stroke
* Heart attack
* Artery reclosure
* Blood vessel, nerve, or organ damage
* Blood clots
* Failure of medical equipment

My Take: If you are diagnosed with limited coronary blockage with mild or no cardiac symptoms and your doctor recommends a coronary angioplasty….get a second opinion.

Dan Frith

Dan Frith

Dan Frith has over 25 years of experience representing individuals and families in cases of medical malpractice throughout Virginia. He has been named "Best Medical Malpractice Attorney" by Roanoker Magazine and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. To speak with Dan, contact him by email at dfrith@frithlawfirm.com.