Study: Invasive cardiac treatments may be overused

A new study from Maine raises questions about the frequency of invasive cardiac treatments. The study, in which Maine Medical Center researchers analyzed Medicare part B claims nationwide, found that there was a very high correlation between the frequency of cardiac catheterization rates and percutaneous cardiac intervention (PCI) rates.

In other words, in areas of the country where cardiac catheterization was frequently performed, the rates of PCI were correspondingly higher. Coronary artery bypass graft showed a slight jump in these cases, but not nearly as pronounced as in the rates of PCI.

Researchers suggested possible causes for the correlation, such as the lack of clear guidelines about when PCI is needed, and the tendency for doctors to perform both cardiac catheterization and PCI in the same procedure.

Are percutaneous cardiac interventions being used too frequently? The results of this study don't completely answer the question, but they are highly suggestive.

To learn more about the study:
- read this Maine Medical Center press release