What is a cardiac stent?
A cardiac stent is a small tube made of metal mesh or fabric inserted to strengthen narrow arteries. Stents help support artery walls, and keep them from bursting. When used correctly, they help patients recover from life-saving heart procedures and extend their lives. When used unnecessarily, they can cause more harm than good. A coronary stent procedure lawyer can help determine if you or a loved one was the victim of medical malpractice.
Coronary Stents And Angioplasties
Stents may be inserted during an angioplasty procedure to keep a coronary artery open. Angioplasty is used to treat atherosclerosis, a kind of heart disease caused by the buildup of fatty plaques in veins and arteries. Plaques increase the likelihood of clots in the arteries, which could ultimately lead to a heart attack. Following a cardiac procedure, heart stents support the inner wall of the artery and reduce the chance that arteries will revert to their narrow state.
Doctors may also use stents as a treatment for carotid artery disease (CAD). CAD causes the buildup of plaques inside the arteries that run up the neck—clots in this area leave patients at great risk for stroke. Stents are also occasionally used to treat plaque buildup in other areas of the body, such as arteries in the kidneys or limbs, or even in the aorta itself. Stents are most appropriately used for patients have suffered a heart attack, and who urgently need intervention for their arteries.
The Danger of Using Cardiac Stents
Despite these important uses, coronary stents are sometimes inserted in non-emergency situations where they needn’t be. A 2011 study in the Journal of American Medicine found that approximately 12 percent of 144,000 non-emergency heart catheterization procedures performed were medically inappropriate and another 38 percent were of uncertain value. In 2013, a panel of medical specialists assembled by the American Medical Association and the Joint Commission, listed elective stinting as one of five overused treatments that provide little or no benefit.
Another study in the New England Journal of Medicine has found that medication may be generally just as effective as invasive procedures in patients with stable coronary artery disease. Logically, doctors should explain the medication option to patients and try blood-thinning drugs before resorting to invasive procedures. However, since Medicare pays for the procedure, some doctors are quick to perform the procedures, which generate revenue for heath care providers.
How Many Stents Are Too Many?
The patient may suffer as a result: Unneeded stents have been known cause serious injuries and deaths. Stents can actually end up weakening the heart, and lead to clots and blockages. The procedure to insert the stents can also tear arteries, which is itself potentially life threatening. Stent procedures were linked to the deaths of 773 patients and more than 4,100 injuries such as perforated arteries in a recent year, according to a review of incident reports filed with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Bloomberg News reported. These complications and deaths are all the more tragic for the fact that they were entirely preventable. Considering the risks involved, doctors should not use stents where they are not strictly necessary.
What to Do if You Have Suffered Due to Medical Negligence in Indiana
If you or a loved one has suffered as the result of receiving unnecessary cardiac heart stent or angioplasty surgery, you may have a strong case for medical malpractice. If you believe that you were the victim of medical malpractice in Indiana, you should speak with an experienced Indianapolis medical malpractice lawyer. At the Law Office of Kelley J. Johnson, we’ll carefully review your medical records and consult with independent experts to build a strong case and get you just compensation. We work with clients from Avon, Indianapolis, and all over the state of Indiana.
- ProPublica: To Stent Or Not To Stent, That Is In Question
- Bloomberg Business: Deaths Linked to Cardiac Stents Rise as Overuse Seen
- National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute (NIH): What is a Stent?
- Mayo Clinic: Coronary Angioplasty and Stents
- Journal of American Medicine: Appropriateness of Percutaneous Coronary Intervention
- New England Journal of Medicine: Optimal Medical Therapy With or Without PCI for Stable Coronary Disease