Angioplasty is often performed at the same time if a blockage is found. Patient-informed consent for both procedures was required.
The study involved 153 patients with stable heart disease who had varying levels of symptoms. According to the authors, less than one-third (31 percent) of those who agreed to undergo elective cardiac catheterization had the type of activity-limiting angina pain that angioplasty might be expected to ease.
Nevertheless, almost three-quarters of all the patients still believed that if they didn't undergo angioplasty, they would suffer a heart attack within the next five years.
In contrast, 63 percent of cardiologists surveyed in the study realized that for stable heart patients, the procedure mainly reduces pain (from angina) and improves quality of life.
The authors also noted that these benefits can often be achieved with medication alone.
Only patients who are actually having a heart attack or coronary event can expect a reduced risk of future heart attacks and death from angioplasty, according to prior research cited in the study.
The number of angioplasties done for stable heart patients has, in fact, decreased lately, said Rothberg. According to the American Heart Association, about 1.3 million such procedures are done in the United States each year.
Dr. Henry H. Ting, associate dean for quality, and professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., said he was not surprised by the study findings.
Ting pointed to a survey at the Mayo Clinic that found that 80 percent of patients signed consent forms they had not read, and did not know the benefits or risks of the treatment they were having.
Ting, who conducts research on informed consent, said the problem of patient understandi
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