Cardiovascular care in America is spiraling out of control. We are now spending more than one hundred billion dollars a year for treatment and management of cardiovascular catastrophes (heart attack, stroke and diseases of the vascular system). This extraordinary amount of money is spent on victims of a disease that is largely preventable.
The problems of cardiovascular care in America are draining our healthcare dollars and contributing to our financial collapse. In addition, I point out key areas of wasteful spending on expensive and risky diagnostic studies as well as procedures that are of no benefit to the millions of Americans who fall prey to the cardiovascular intervention industry. What may surprise you is what you believed to be the ultimate of cardiac care in this country is often unnecessary and dangerous.
Examples of inappropriate cardiovascular care are summarized below:
Coronary angioplasty and stent insertion: While coronary angioplasty (the opening up of a blocked artery with a catheter device) and stent placement can be indicated and potentially lifesaving in acute coronary syndromes such as heart attacks, utilizing this technology in stable patients who have coronary blockages is inappropriate and has never been shown to reduce the risk of future heart attack or prolong life as compared to more conservative therapy (lifestyle changes and medications as indicated).
Indeed balloon angioplasty and stent placement can often lead to an increase in cardiovascular morbidity and mortality compared to an intensive prevention approach. Despite this well-researched fact the cardiovascular intervention industry continues like a freight-train out of control. This year over one million stents will be inserted in patients across America and many of these procedures are clearly not indicated.
Heart bypass surgery (also called coronary artery bypass graft surgery): like catheter-based intervention, heart bypass surgery is clearly indicated in select unstable patients, however bypass surgery is over-utilized in the majority of patients with obstructive coronary artery disease.