Over 1.5 million angioplasties and coronary bypass surgeries are done annually in the U.S., which makes heart surgery among the most commonly performed surgical procedures for men and women. This would be fine if these procedures worked. Although heart surgery can be lifesaving, truth is that they benefit only a small fraction of the millions who undergo them. For the majority -- an estimated 70%-90%, these procedures are unnecessary. Harsh words, yes, but unfortunately true.
Here are some more telling numbers and facts:
• Americans are seven times more likely to undergo coronary angioplasty and bypass surgery than in Canada and Sweden, but the number of people who die from cardiovascular disease in these countries is nearly identical to this country.
• Bypass surgery and angioplasty have never been shown to prolong life or prevent heart attacks in the majority of patients.
• Lifestyle changes and medical treatment has been proven over and over again in numerous studies to significantly decrease heart attacks and prolong life.
The sad truth is that most heart disease patients are sold a bill of goods by a cardiology industry that has too much of a self-interest in making sure that as many people as possible are treated with expensive surgical procedures, instead of a far less expensive program of lifestyle changes and, if needed, cardiac medication.
It concerns me that countless patients are subjected every day to unnecessary surgery. But what makes it worse is that these procedures can be harmful. Although cardiologists hasten to assure their patients that these procedures are time-tested and safe, all invasive surgery carries risk. In fact, the mortality rate from bypass surgery ranges from 3%-5%. This percentage may sound insignificant, but not when you consider that a half-million people undergo these procedures each years. In addition, an estimated 25%-30% of angioplasties fail and need to be redone; eventually, many of these angioplasty patients will require bypass surgery.
Bypass surgery carries significant risks.