“Unfortunate paradox”

“Unfortunate paradox”

That’s the summary of findings of a recent study – that found that when expert, high volume stent-implanting cardiologists are away at professional meetings, deaths due to heart attack actually FALL at their respective hospitals.

The full explanation for this is elusive, but clearly implanting stents is not the answer to everything.

Which is not news to you if you read our previous blog about the limits of stents to improve outcomes.

The point is NOT that stents are useless – they can, in fact, be lifesaving especially in the throes of a heart attack. But they’re clearly only PART of the overall treatment. 

Which brings us back to a very important truth: a heart attack is not the problem. It may be a dramatic and life changing event – even life limiting - but it’s actually an extreme manifestation of the REAL problem.  The REAL problem is uncontrolled risk factors, including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess weight, poor diet, inactivity, stress and smoking. 

Interestingly, the researchers found that there were no differences in rates of stent implantation over time, even when the high volume preceduralists were away.  And the severity of heart attacks was also no different over time.  Which means outcomes were not determined by whether or not a stent was used. 

The implication? The rest of the care must have been different.  Meaning that more attention was probably paid to those underlying risk factors when proceduralists weren't in charge of overall patient care.

This study is not just an interesting curiosity. It’s a stark reminder about the limits of medical technology.

No amount of technical expertise is a guarantee of better outcomes when it comes to heart disease. Don’t get me wrong – you want highly experienced physicians working on your body. But after the procedure is done, it’s the fundamentals that will actually determine how you do long term.

Quitting smoking is mandatory. Adding movement to your day will help. Reducing stress is always ideal, even if hard to achieve. But the biggest impact will be realized from changing your diet to one that supports heart health. We ingest food 3 to 4 or more times per day, every single day. That’s a massive cumulative effect that can either hurt you or heal you. 

Step One Foods exists to help you heal. 

 

http://jaha.ahajournals.org/content/7/6/e008230 

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