The lead story on all three networks was inspired by a report in the New England Journal of Medicine on the overuse of angioplasty to treat blocked arteries. "Blockbuster news," punned ABC's John McKenzie. Routinely, heart patients are prescribed blood thinners and anti-cholesterol statin medicines but hundreds of thousands each year also have a stent balloon inserted to keep the artery open. Each stent costs $20,000-or-so to install yet the research found that, in non-emergency patients, it offers no extra benefit in reducing heart attacks or preventing death. A leading cardiologist told NBC's Tom Costello that this study is "a game changer for patient care."
ABC's in-house physician Timothy Johnson (no link) predicted "a real battle" among cardiologists, those who prefer surgical intervention and those that do not: "Cardiologists and hospitals have a lot, both professionally and moneywise, invested in this procedure…It is going to be real war." CBS' in-house physician Jon LaPook concluded less dramatically: "We may have more options than we thought in the treatment of heart disease."
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