50,000 angioplasties each year of no benefit

50,000 angioplasties each year of no benefit

Tens of thousands of angioplasty procedures carried out each year in the USA after heart attacks are not only a waste of time and resources, but they could also be dangerous for the patients, say experts after looking at 2,166 cases.

You can read about this new report in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).

When an angioplasty is carried out more than three days after the patient's heart attack, it provides no benefit for him/her. However, it can be a lifesaver if done straight after a heart attack. It is crucial that all patients who are going to have the procedure, have it done at the right time, say the researchers.

They found that nearly all the heart attack patients in their study got good drug treatment, but only half received angioplasty at the right time.

What Is Angioplasty?

It is a medical procedure to restore blood flow through a blocked or narrowed artery to the heart. Plaque can build up on the inner walls of an artery, reducing blood flow, which can lead to coronary artery disease and heart attack. A thin tube with a balloon on the end is threaded through a blood vessel up to the site of the plaque build up. When in place, the balloon is inflated and squishes the plaque outwards against the artery wall - effectively flattening the obstruction. After this, better blood flow is restored.

A stent is placed at the site to keep the artery open. A stent is like a very small scaffold/mesh - it holds the artery open, but blood can flow through it. Click here to see illustrations of angioplasty and stents.

"Coronary Intervention for Persistent Occlusion after Myocardial Infarction"

Judith S. Hochman, M.D., Gervasio A. Lamas, M.D., Christopher E. Buller, M.D., Vladimir Dzavik, M.D., Harmony R. Reynolds, M.D., Staci J. Abramsky, M.P.H., Sandra Forman, M.A., Witold Ruzyllo, M.D., Aldo P. Maggioni, M.D., Harvey White, M.D., Zygmunt Sadowski, M.D., Antonio C. Carvalho, M.D., Jamie M. Rankin, M.D., Jean P. Renkin, M.D., P. Gabriel Steg, M.D., Alice M. Mascette, M.D., George Sopko, M.D., Matthias E. Pfisterer, M.D., Jonathan Leor, M.D., Viliam Fridrich, M.D., Daniel B. Mark, M.D., M.P.H., Genell L. Knatterud, Ph.D., for the Occluded Artery Trial Investigators

NEJM November 14, 2006 (10.1056/NEJMoa066139)

Click here to see abstract online

Editor: womenhealthsecret.com

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Section Issues On Medicine: Cardiology