Talk to Your Doctor – Understand Your Risks of Angioplasty, Stenting
Here’s what you need to weigh if you’re choosing angioplasty or stenting. Our experts explain.
When individuals are seeking relief from the symptoms of chronic stable angina, in which exercise or stress can cause chest pain, they are faced with three options for treatment: medications, angioplasty and stent, or heart surgery. A new JAMA Internal Medicine study suggests that patients may not always get enough information from their doctors to make the best choice.
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Researchers studied recordings of 59 conversations between cardiologists and their patients about percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), or balloon angioplasty, a procedure performed through a catheter to reopen arteries and restore blood flow to the heart. Sometimes a wire mesh stent is left behind to prevent additional clogging. They found that only two discussions covered all the information necessary to make an informed decision.
All procedures have benefits and risks. The PCI procedure can reduce pain and prevent heart attacks in some individuals, but there is also risk of infection, blood vessel damage and artery rupture requiring open surgery to repair. Researchers found that physicians discussed alternative treatments in a quarter of the cases, and even less frequently confirmed whether patients understood information or explained the pros and cons of various stents that could be inserted.
Cleveland Clinic interventional cardiologist Amar Krishnaswamy, MD, did not participate in the study, however he shares the top three things individuals need to understand about such interventional procedures:
Not everyone is the same. Be prepared. Ask questions:
Together, you and your cardiologist will determine the best treatment for you.