News | May 29, 2007

Sickest Heart Patients May Not Get Treatments They Need

May 30, 2007 -- The Canadian Press reports this week that people in the greatest need of cardiac medications and interventions are less likely than moderately ill patients to get the full range of heart drugs and procedures, and it may be because they fail the "eyeball" test.

Two American cardiologists have suggested that doctors may view these patients, the sickest of the sick, as too ill to benefit from invasive treatments like catheterization or too depressed or unwell to deal with the hassle of more medication in what is likely already a multi-pill daily regime.

Dr. John Spertus of the University of Missouri, Kansas City and Dr. Mark Furman of the University of Massachusetts Medical School express their views in an editorial in the "Archives of Internal Medicine."

Their editorial accompanies two studies by Canadian research teams that found that sicker patients were less likely to be getting an important cholesterol lowering drug called a statin or to undergo cardiac catheterization.

The studies add support to what's called the treatment-risk paradox, a phenomenon first described by researchers at Toronto's Institute for Clinical Evaluative Studies.

They reported in 2004 that patients who would benefit most from cardiac interventions were least likely to be getting them.

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