Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Are we overtreating heart attacks?


…If your first heart attack does not result in that death thing, at very least it will result in a scary ER run, unsettling tests with tubes running into your groin, and pressure to have artery-reaming surgery or get stents or other devices.

…Don’t forget the $80,000 hospital bill.

…Yet, who is brave enough to say, “Hey, I feel better now, see ya.”

…Some doctors say some of these surgeries are “cosmetic,” making the arteries look nice inside but not addressing the heart disease within the arterial walls that caused the blockage.

…Statistics do not show bypasses or stents reducing the chances of another heart attack, these docs maintain.

…Most evidence does show taking a beta blocker and some form of blood thinner such as aspirin can help prevent another attack.

…Dartmouth economics prof Jonathan Skinner says the areas of the country that spent less on post-attack treatments had better outcomes. He attributes this to the areas being poorer and doctors more likely to ixnay the extra tests and prescribe the beta blocker and aspirin.

…Usually in those areas, specialists are not brought in, racking up extra bills for tests.

…The problem is, patients see this as, “Your money or your life?” They kinda want to choose their life.

…It’s all a gamble, but maybe not as obvious a one as we thought.

…Some physicians now talk about “medical bypasses,” combinations of diet and medication. Lowering cholesterol without joining our big national clinical test on statins is part of this lower tech approach.

…Ask your doctor. As should be abundantly clear, HA isn’t one.

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