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Study Asks: Are Physicians Overusing an Invasive Cardiac Treatment?
Date:12/11/2008

PORTLAND, Maine, Dec. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- Researchers are asking if cardiology patients receive intervention-type treatments, such as stents, too often and too quickly.

In regions of the country where cardiologists perform high numbers of cardiac catheterizations to diagnose heart problems, patients may be receiving a treatment known as percutaneous cardiac intervention (PCI) more than they need or want, according to a study published online this week in the journal Circulation. The study will also be in the journal's December 16/23 print edition.

In the study, Maine Medical Center researchers analyzed the relationship between cardiac catheterizations and the two most common invasive cardiac treatments used to restore blood flow -- PCI and coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery. They found a very high correlation between cardiac catheterization rates and PCI rates; researchers noted a much weaker connection between cardiac catheterization and the number of CABGs.

"Several recent studies on managing heart disease have touted the benefits of treatment with medication and lifestyle changes -- as opposed to invasive treatment, says Lee Lucas, PhD, principal investigator at the Maine Medical Center Research Institute. "The results from our study reflect what might be a tendency for physicians to opt for treating invasively rather than conservatively if they see anything unusual during the diagnostic process."

"Our research indicates that patients may be getting PCIs that aren't necessary," says Dr. Lucas. She says that her findings might reflect the fact that criteria for PCIs are not as clearly defined as those for CABG.

"In addition, performing the diagnostic test and treatment in the same procedure, which is common practice, results in a situation in which patients have little opportunity to share in the decision making process before a
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SOURCE Maine Medical Center
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