If you have any interactions with a cardiologist, this is a must read. And read VERY carefully.
Percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) is the procedure where a stent is (almost always) placed into a coronary artery. Most know this as coronary angioplasty. This procedure largely did not even exist a decade ago (it began to blossom in the late 80’s, but it seems to me like the past decade has seen major increases). It has created an entire field within cardiology called interventional cardiology.
It has been established that coronary angioplasty for non-emergency chest pain really does nothing but makes the patient feel better temporarily, until they actually have a heart attack sometime in the near future. To make this a little more problematic, this is NOT a cheap procedure (runs around $35K) and has its list of side effects, including death.
But does your cardiologist know this? In this particular study, researchers asked this very same question of a group of 27 cardiologists (10 interventional and 17 referring). Here’s what they found:
- 63% of cardiologists surveyed agreed that PCI is ONLY good for symptom relief. Symptom relief only.
- Almost 3/4 of patients felt that, without the PCI, they would definitely suffer a heart attack in the next 5 years
- 88% of patients, however, mistakenly believed this procedure would prevent a future heart . Talk about a disconnect!
- The real deeper problem here, however, is that, despite the fact that this procedure would only manage symptoms and not really fix anything, 43% of cardiologists would STILL PERFORM THE PROCEDURE!!
Yes–almost half of the cardiologist would still perform a $35,000 procdure with death as a potential side effect that does little other than help with chest pain.
And your insurance will gladly pay for it. No wonder our system is so screwed up!