Dr Oz: Stent Dangers: The Most Unnecessary Heart Procedure

By on November 9, 2010

Dr Oz did a show called “The Danger of Stents: The Most Unnecessary Heart Procedure”.  The number one killer of women is the heart attack.  But what is the best way to treat a swollen heart that has difficulty beating?  Some people think that heart stents are the miracle solution, but Doctor Oz had a different perspective to share with us.  Dr Oz Heart Stents

Dr Oz joined Dr Mathew Williams at the hospital to show us how stents are placed in the heart.  The procedure was being done on a man who had chest pain from the blockages, which is one of the reasons that Dr Oz says it is ok to get a stent put in.  The other reason is if you are in imminent risk of having a heart attack.  The stent opens up the artery so that blood can flow through more easily.  The entire procedure is done on a special table that takes xrays throughout the procedure.  The stent is put in place and then a balloon-like instrument is used to open up the stent so that it holds open the artery.

Dr Oz said that not all blockages lead to heart attacks, and unless you are having a heart attack, about to have a heart attack or in pain, stents usually are not the right answer.  88% of stent patients believe that stents will prolong their life, which is often a false security.  The procedure is minimally invasive and you can resume activities in less than a week, plus it psychologically make people feel better.  But do we really need them so often?  A study looked at the incidence levels of stent procedures in the country, and certain places in Texas (for example) had twice the number of stent procedures than other place in Texas.  How can the medical necessity for the procedure vary so dramatically in just one state?  Another study found that Stent Procedures or Angioplasty are used incorrectly up to 50% of the time.  Here is a list of questions that Dr Oz said you should ask your doctor before getting stents put in.

Dr Oz: Danger of Stents: Questions to Ask Your Doctor Before Getting Stents

Stent Question #1: Is the Blockage Life-Threatening?

Dr Oz said that if the blockage is life threatening, definitely get a stent!  Plaque that builds up in your arteries is gooey and the stent can push the plaque out of the way, but it does not get rid of the plaque.  Blood clots can still form after getting a stent, which is why you need to remain on blood thinners.  It is dangerous for people to have the mindset that stents are a “quick fix” because you cannot keep repeating your bad habits.  Dr Oz said that you will always have heart disease unless you change your lifestyle.  That being said, Dr Oz said that if you already have stents, he does not mean to imply that everyone should go out and have their stents removed.

Stent Question #2: Does a Test Confirm Significant Blockage?

Dr Oz said that Cardiac Catheterization can determine how bad a blockage is so that you decide if a stent is going to be needed.  Less than 1/2 of Stent Patients had a Stress Test before the Stent Procedure to verify that they really needed a stent.  Also, Dr Oz said that women’s blood vessels tend not to build plaque in one specific point, which is what stents works well for.  Instead, women have issues where they get general spasming of the blood vessels, for which stents work less well.

Stent Question #3: What Will Happen If I Don’t Get the Stent?

Dr Matt Williams told Dr Oz that immediate placement of stents is usually only needed if you are having a large heart attack, if you have chest pain at rest or if you have chest pain that is not responding to medication.

Stent Question #4: Would Medication Alone Work Just As Well?

Dr Oz said that medication often works just as well.  You can talk with your doctor about Blood Pressure Medication, Cholesterol Lowering Medication and Aspirin.  Aspirin is an anti-inflammatory that prevents your blood from clotting up and your plaque from chipping off.  This is why you should always take an aspirin after calling 911, if you have a heart attack.

Dr Oz said that if you cannot have a conversation with your doctor about these four questions, then you need to get a second opinion.  A stent does not protect you 100% from future heart attacks, so you still need to take medication and improve your lifestyle.  For example, by losing Just 10 Pounds, you can reduce your risk of having a heart attack by up to 50%!

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Comments to Dr Oz: Stent Dangers: The Most Unnecessary Heart Procedure

  1. Caroline Riehl says:

    Zeroed in on the show today when I heard subject was stents…..Recently got five stents in July, then three more in October. I am 84, am on B.P. med’s, felt fine but had failed EKG and the stress test altho I’m very physically active altho’ have had increasingly more back and neck pain leading to extensive surgeries in ’08….and not able to work as strenuously as earlier. I feel that fact led to the placque build-up. What a surprise to hear the extent of the blockagers found thru catheterization! I had had no physical signs of distress except perplexing “hot flushes” of upper body, neck and arms off and on. (Would still like to understand how and why they occur; am still feeling them but less often.)
    The dangers of overused stents had me taking notes and becoming apprehensive; feeling I need to ask for reassurance re my case and “necessity” for those procedures. Think I felt better in some ways before they were done!
    I had gone for my second follow-up visit earlier today at FHA (Florida Heart Association) where they are now ordering further follow up such as some weeks of “Cardiac Rehabilitation” at local Cape Coral Hospital once I get results of another stress test, CK lab work and more. I do appreciate their continuing support re. my heart health. All this will take time for many sessions of rehab. with supervision but, I’m sure will beneficial. Glad for any opportunity to get into exercising I can handle now that my back is in better shape and less painful.

    Always happy to have remembered to watch a program!! I will certainly try to get some answers to ‘set my mind at ease’ about the eight (!) I now harbor in those coronary arteries!

    Caroline

  2. Dear Dr. Oz.,
    Thank you very much for your information on stents.
    I did watch your program on stents a week before my mom (67 yrs.) got admitted to ER for her numbness on right side of the body. The doctors conducted N-stress stest and MRI scans of brain to confirm that she had mini stroke signs. When the cardiologists conducted N-stress (adninsone Test .13 and EF > 50%), they said it is better to put stent on her heart as a precaution although she did not have any symptoms of chest pain, or pain on left side of the body. However, since I and my Mom had seen your program, she said that she did not feel a need of stent and she was released from hospital on aspirin, (81mg), statin and metroplol (BP medication) and physiotherapy recommendation.

    The unfortunate part is that my Mom passed away right after 14 days from release from hospital at my home. There were no warning signs as she was talking to me and her friends over phone.

    Now I have a guilt that we should have listened to recommendations from Cardiologists rather diagnosing serious heart condition based on your show.

    Please advice your audience how to effectively make decisions and not try to be doctor/specialist at your own based on program.

  3. Do you have any information on stents that have closed and having them reopened?

  4. i have 11 stents and i have had brachgetherapy, with every stent i restesonsed in less than 4 month , i have stents inside of stents i have had a CABG x 2 , now there are more problems i have had 11 knee surgerey . bqck surgery i am now on disablity i am only 58. i had a wrist broken from football . advvance frontal lobe danger, sveral TIA’s you know Dr. Oz i am only 58 and all i wanted was used jeep after i pay medicare , house payments , oh i leave out Otrho ridios my wife i a nervous , this is funny park i worke for Heart Clinics for 8 years , any way just some tibits of my life 509-326-9889, thanks alot dr. i have picked a few words from you , i will prob to have to 6 way bypass

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