Did you really need that coronary stent?

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

balloon-angioplastyA New York study has revisited the issue of stent-happy cardiologists implanting the tiny metal devices that help prop open – or revascularize – blocked coronary arteries. Essentially, this study(1) suggests that two-thirds of the justifications for this procedure in non-emergency patients were either “uncertain” or “inappropriate“. For any heart patient who has ever been told by those with the letters M.D. after their names that this type of cardiac intervention was recommended, it’s yet more troubling news. And the fact that this issue simply will not go away makes me wonder why cardiologists themselves are keeping suspiciously mum about the controversy.

When cardiologists do speak up, not surprisingly, many hasten to pre-emptively defend their interventional colleagues. An editorial that accompanied this study’s publication in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, for example, explained:

“There are certain to be patients rated as ‘inappropriate’ for which almost all competent cardiologists would recommend intervention.”

In other words, pay no attention to the man behind the curtainContinue reading “Did you really need that coronary stent?”

Heart disease = most costly condition for women

by Carolyn Thomas

The cost of treating women for heart disease leads a list of the top 10 most expensive conditions for women, according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

The analysis by this American agency reveals that the top 10 most costly conditions in terms of health care expenditures for women were:

  • heart disease (over $43.6 billion)
  • cancer
  • mental disorders
  • trauma-related disorders
  • osteoarthritis
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma
  • hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Diabetes
  • back problems
  • hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol levels)

The first few thoughts that hit me while reading this list were:  Continue reading “Heart disease = most costly condition for women”

Say what? Do patients really hear what doctors tell them?

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

headHEARTDuring my heart attack, I was taken immediately from the E.R. to the O.R. for emergency treatment for a left anterior descending coronary artery that turned out to be 95% blocked.  But, overwhelmed and terrified, I knew nothing of what was about to happen to me, even though I have a vague memory of the cardiologist explaining something to me before I was taken upstairs.

I could see his lips moving and I could hear sounds coming out of his mouth, but he could have been speaking Swahili.  I don’t think I was capable of comprehension at the time. Everything I know about surviving what’s known as the “widowmaker” heart attack, I learned much, much later.

I’m not alone. This study suggested that heart patients believe that their cardiac interventions have far greater benefits than they actually do. Continue reading “Say what? Do patients really hear what doctors tell them?”