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 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%!