Treatment

Coronary Angioplasty, Stents, and Other Relics of the Paleolithic Age

Dr. William Davis Health Pro February 10, 2009
  • In the next 24 hours, nearly 10,000 heart procedures will be performed in hospitals across the U.S. That's 365 days a year, year after year.   Procedures and drugs taking aim at heart disease appear to be getting better and better-yet the cardiovascular healthcare system grows bigger, generati...

7 Comments
  • truford
    Jul. 22, 2010

    I am a 55-year-old female, diagnosed last week as having an approximate 50% blockage in 2 of my coronary arteries. I've been treated for hypertension for 7 years, and heart disease runs in my family. (Father had a triple bypass at 60, mitral valve implant at 65, and died at 79 during surgery to repair his original bypasses.)

    For 6 to 12 months I've had back...

    RHMLucky777

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    I am a 55-year-old female, diagnosed last week as having an approximate 50% blockage in 2 of my coronary arteries. I've been treated for hypertension for 7 years, and heart disease runs in my family. (Father had a triple bypass at 60, mitral valve implant at 65, and died at 79 during surgery to repair his original bypasses.)

    For 6 to 12 months I've had back pain between my shoulder blades that I suspected was a sign of a heart problem, but my doctors insisted it was just "stress" or due to lower lumbar radiculopathy and bad posture sitting all day at a computer.

    Last week I had some pretty bad chest pain at work, and when it didn't go away, I asked a co-worker to take me to the ER. After many tests the cardiologist told me that I had high cholesterol and 2 blocked arteries. She put me on Lipitor and 325mg of aspirin, and increased my blood pressure med (Diovan) from 80mg to 160mg per day. (At my follow-up appointment yesterday, she increased it to 320mg per day.) My BP average has been about 135/83 over the past week, but has gone as high as 150/90.

    The cardiologist said I might need stents put in, but at this point the choice was up to me. She also said that, to be sure exactly how much blockage I have, and determine how soon I would need stents, I could have a cardiac catheterization. I decided to wait and see how I do with medication, moderate exercise, and a better diet.

    I'm still having a few scary symptoms, like occasional hot flashes (not menopause; been there, done that), sudden light-headedness, and some "twinges" of minor pain in both the left and right sides of my chest and upper back. I'm not sure if these symptoms are serious, or just caused by the tremendous anxiety I've felt ever since my diagnosis. (I also have trouble sleeping at night -- I am terrified of having a heart attack in my sleep!) Also, the cardiologist took me off Celebrex, which I'd been taking several years for the lumbar pain, so that pain is going untreated.

    My biggest worry is that the cardiac cath will be painful. I have an extremely low pain threshhold -- I'm a HUGE crybaby when it comes to pain -- which, truthfully, is the main reason I didn't want to have the cath done when I was in the hospital last week. The emotional trauma of just knowing my arteries were blocked was bad enough, and I didn't think I could force myself to withstand an invasive procedure like a cath. (My father had no problem with his, but he had an extremely high pain threshhold -- if he'd been hit by a train, he probably wouldn't have blinked!)

    I've read several explanations of what the cardiac cath feels like, but I still don't trust that it won't hurt. (I suspect those people who say it doesn't hurt, or that you feel only "slight" pain, have never actually had one, or they're like my dad and can tolerate lots of pain.)

    I would have it done immediately if I knew that I would feel NOTHING during the procedure. But I'm scared to death (no pun intended) of experiencing even the slightest pain, because I know that my anxiety will probably magnify it a thousand times.

    I know that I have to be "awake" during this procedure, but does that mean the same state of wakefulness I experienced during an esophagial endoscopy? I had one of those in 1999, and even though the doctor said I was "awake" and talking during the procedure, after they put me on the table and gave me some kind of anesthesia, I don't remember a thing until I woke up in recovery.

    Please, please let me know if this is what it's like OR, if not, whether I can get the doctor to give me enough sedative to endure it. I'm pretty sure that I need the cardiac cath right now, and may even need the stents. I don't want to have a heart attack or die.

  • Anonymous
    Gerry
    Jan. 30, 2010

    Dr. Davis article is wordy and concludes with a folk wisdom:  "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."  Not only is that obvious, the data he cites are anything but persuasive and the impliation that procedures such as stents don't do much is ill-foundd.  Medicine made much progress by using rigorous trials with control groups,...

    RHMLucky777

    Read More

    Dr. Davis article is wordy and concludes with a folk wisdom:  "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."  Not only is that obvious, the data he cites are anything but persuasive and the impliation that procedures such as stents don't do much is ill-foundd.  Medicine made much progress by using rigorous trials with control groups, and in numbers sufficient to provide statistically significant results.  The one study he cites does not fall into that category.

  • Anonymous
    solace
    Jul. 27, 2009

    Coronary angioplasty is a procedure used to combat narrowing of the arteries that can lead to a number of serious outcomes, including strokes. Some of the main indications for coronary angioplasty include angina, congestive heart failure, dyspnea, and myocardial infarction. Coronary angioplasty is a less invasive procedure than many of the previous options...

    RHMLucky777

    Read More

    Coronary angioplasty is a procedure used to combat narrowing of the arteries that can lead to a number of serious outcomes, including strokes. Some of the main indications for coronary angioplasty include angina, congestive heart failure, dyspnea, and myocardial infarction. Coronary angioplasty is a less invasive procedure than many of the previous options available to doctors.

  • Anonymous
    D. B. Clendening
    Feb. 14, 2009

    I must admit that I was astonished to read Dr. Davis'

    comments about by-pass surgery and the use of stents on a

    clogged artery.  I am 83 years old, had by-pass surgery in

    1983 and again in 1996.  I have been quite healthy during

    the past twenty six years, playing tennis two times in

    most weeks.  I am now scheduled to undergo a heart

    catherization...

    RHMLucky777

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    I must admit that I was astonished to read Dr. Davis'

    comments about by-pass surgery and the use of stents on a

    clogged artery.  I am 83 years old, had by-pass surgery in

    1983 and again in 1996.  I have been quite healthy during

    the past twenty six years, playing tennis two times in

    most weeks.  I am now scheduled to undergo a heart

    catherization this coming Monday, Feb. 16, because my

    Cardiologist tells me that recent tests have revealed that

    my heart is pumping at about forty percent efficiency and

    there is strong indication that my heart has been damaged.  I will not undergo another by-pass surgery, so

    if a clogged artery is found, the Cardiologist will plan

    to put in a stent.  I have never had a heart attack and

    my previous surgeries were performed after a catherization showed the clogged arteries.  Having enjoyed such good

    health these past 26 years, there is no reason for me to

    think that the two surgeries did not make a substantial

    contribution.  I would be pleased to have any comments

    Dr. Davis might wish to offer.  e-mail dboonec2@bellsouth.net  Dan Clendening  

     

  • Anonymous
    Don Anderson
    Feb. 14, 2009

    Dr. Davis explained his views on these procedures. I am in complete agreement with what was said about overuse. His final statement that prevention is the answer but falls far short in what constitutes prevention.  

  • Anonymous
    Joyce
    Feb. 12, 2009

    My husband had open heart surgery in 2006. And has had stints put in. Are you telling me that was only like a band-aid! How long does a person live on average after they've had open heart surgery and mulitple stinks put in every couple of years? Also since my husband had surgery when he bends over he gets dizzy.

  • Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Feb. 12, 2009

    Well, he sure took the long way around before getting to the point - which is prevention is preferred to procedures.  When writing, be brief and to the point.  This article can be summed up in 3 sentences - the rest is fluff.