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Angioplasty overused among millions of patients, evidence shows

Kansas City Star, November 18, 2008

Every day, thousands of people enter hospitals for angioplasties—a procedure that will cost about $12,000, take a week of recuperation, and require a year or more of drug therapy. And, in many cases, it's probably unnecessary. Angioplasties have grown into a $10 billion industry in the United States, and there is no dispute that they can be a lifesaver for patients in the throes of a heart attack. But angioplasties aren't risk-free, and evidence is mounting that the procedure is overused among the millions of patients who have the kind of stable heart disease that doesn't foretell a heart attack. New studies indicate that cardiologists often don't evaluate these patients adequately before doing angioplasties, and patients often have inflated ideas about how important an angioplasty is to their survival.