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Stents – An Unnecessary Risk

Millennium Research Group, which is a medical technology marketing group, stated that each year almost 1 million people have stents implanted in their bodies, in order to take care of the blocked heart arteries. According to the experts the stents and the balloons can save one’s life if he is suffering from clocked arteries, but only during a heart attack.

Are stents useless?

If the situation is not an emergency one, stents are pretty useless. In 2007, it has been discovered that stents, which are used to open arteries, are not very effecting against chest pains. They can eliminate the pain, but so can heart pills. Even so, doctors continue to perform angioplasty, which is the balloon procedure, and to insert stents into their patients. The procedure isn’t cheap either, as $12 billion are spent each year on these procedures alone. The majority of the expenses are covered by the taxpayers. In 2009, Medicare alone paid $3.5 billion for the stents procedures.

Rita Redberg, M.D., a professor at the University of California in San Francisco, stated that she is bothered by these numbers. Redberg has stated for a very long time now that Medicare wastes too much money on useless procedures and operations. She also stated that the doctors are the ones to blame, because they should try different options prior to suggesting surgery. She said that statins, beta blockers, and aspirin, all of which can eliminate chest pains, are the better option. They have fewer side effects and are just as effective as the stents. Redberg said that the patients share some of the blame as well, because they are willing to put their trust more into technology, than into the older methods, such as medicine.

The risks of having a stent implant are pretty high. People who receive this implant can have a heart attack after the operation. The stent might also fail, and in that case the blood vessel will be completely closed. Patients who have stents are also required to take aspirin, or Plavix, or other types of medicine which thin the blood. They have to pay for the medicine from their own pockets.

Too many stents operations

It has been discovered that from 500,000 stent surgeries 355,000 of them were performed in emergency situations, and that the remaining 145,000 were performed when it wasn’t the case. From those 145,000 operations, 50 percent were considered appropriate, 38 percent were considered uncertain, and 12 percent were considered without benefit. This means that each year, 300 million dollars are spent on operations which are not required. Each year over 15,000 useless procedures are done in hospitals across the United States of America. The reason why so many surgeries are performed each year is because people believe that this is the best option. Just like in the case of a broken car, the best thing to do is to open the hood, and identify the problem. However, in the case of humans, it is much more complicated, because the procedure can have serious side effects.

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