Blocked Arteries Not Always Found on Angiograms | PreDisease.com Blog
Posted Mar 05 2010 12:00am
Blocked Arteries Not Always Found on Angiograms
by Jennifer Bunn, RN
Angiograms are the definitive test for people who may have had a heart attack, or who suffer from chest pain. A normal angiogram virtually rules out the possibility of a heart attack. However, a new study finds that this invasive and expensive test yields far fewer positive results than previously thought.
Researchers studied almost 399,000 patients seen in 663 hospitals over a four-year period. What they found was surprising: only 38% of those undergoing angiograms were found to have blocked arteries. Those patients who had had non-invasive tests prior to angiogram with a positive finding (such as an abnormal stress test) were moderately more likely to have blockage of their arteries discovered on angiogram. Researchers noted that risk factors for finding blockage on angiogram were the same risk factors for cardiovascular disease, including:
* Being male
* Being of older age
* Being diabetic
* Having elevated cholesterol levels
Given that angiograms are both expensive and invasive, it would seem that more stringent criteria is needed to determine who requires an angiogram and who does not. It may be that the culture of practicing defensive medicine is responsible for the number of angiograms done on people with normal findings. It is important to keep in mind that angiograms themselves are not without risk, including the risk of bleeding, and should be reserved for those who truly need it.
Source: Obstructive Disease Not Found on Most Angiograms