This news about stents may have been shocking to The New York Times and mainstream medicine. But not to me or the thousands of Americans that have been reading the alternative health media. For more than 10 years, I’ve been reporting on studies showing that stents don’t work. So has the Institute for Natural Healing (INH).
Stents are tiny wire cages inserted into arteries to prevent blockage. More than half a million heart patients have them inserted every year.
Like so many expensive procedures, this one was heralded as a life saver when it was introduced decades ago. But studies since then have consistently shown that stents produce little benefit. Except, that is, for the financial benefit to those who manufacture and install them. (The main manufacturers of stents are Boston Scientific, Medtronic, and Abbot Laboratories. The cost of the procedure ranges from $11,000 to $41,000.)
The study that caught the attention of the NYT was conducted by Dr. Justin E. Davies, a cardiologist at Imperial College London. He and his colleagues recruited 200 patients with “profoundly blocked” arteries and chest pain “severe enough to limit physical activity.”
They were treated for six weeks with aspirin, a statin drug, and a blood pressure drug. Then half of them had stents implanted while the other half underwent a fake operation. (A rare case when a mainstream medical procedure was assessed by a test that was both double-blind – i.e., neither the patients nor the researchers knew which group got the stents – and also controlled.
In both groups, doctors threaded a catheter through the groin or wrist of the patient and, with X-ray guidance, up to the blocked artery. Once the catheter reached the blockage, the doctor inserted a stent or, if the patient was getting the sham procedure, simply pulled the catheter out.
When the researchers evaluated the patients six weeks later, there was no real difference between the two groups. Those who got the sham procedure did just as well as those who got stents. Both groups said they had less chest pain. And all of them did better on treadmill tests than they had before.
Dr. William E. Boden, a cardiologist and professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine, called the results “unbelievable.”
“All cardiology guidelines should be revised,” wrote Dr. David L. Brown of Washington University School of Medicine and Dr. Rita F. Redberg of the University of California, San Francisco, in an editorial published with the study.
Think it’ll happen? Don’t bet on it.
Based on the medical establishment’s response to negative “news” in the past, this is what we can expect:
First, we will hear from doctors and scientists (many on the payroll of the stent manufacturers). They will explain why the study was imperfect and come up with reasons why “in many cases” the procedure is still valid.
This will be followed by more studies.
And then after a year or more of similarly negative results for the procedure, the medical establishment will come out with some minor modifications to current guidelines. Adjustments that give the appearance of responsiveness without threatening the continuance of this bogus but extremely lucrative medical scam.