Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Stents don't stack up, study says...
"Listen, I don't want to alarm you, but your mother is in the hospital. She's fine, but she's going to have an angioplasty today."
I remember that phone call as if it were yesterday, but in fact, it was almost two years ago.
This morning, I got another phone call from my dad. He wasn't calling to tell me she was back in the hospital, but instead to ask about a new study on angioplasty. He's a physician, so he stays on top of the journals, but he wanted to see how CNN would report it.
The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that patients with stable coronary artery disease, when treated only with medication fared just as well as those treated with medication and angioplasty. The theory is, if you can accomplish the same thing without surgery, why not just stick to the medication alone? It would theoretically save money for patients and insurance companies, and also avoid surgical risks. (Read the Full Study)
But I had a different take - I told my dad I was glad mom got a stent. Her coronary artery disease wasn't stable. In fact, she went to the doctor's office expecting to get some pain medication for her shoulder, and she left in an ambulance. The shoulder pain was an early sign of a heart attack.
Maybe the idea of a stent seems better to me because you can physically hold it in your hand - you can actually visualize how it would prop open the artery. The drugs do their work microscopically, and I'm sure they do it well, but I guess I'm just more of a visual person.
What do you think? Would you opt for medication alone, or go for the surgical procedure?
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