President Bush’s unnecessary heart surgery

Unfortunately, Mr. Bush, like many VIPs, may be paying the price of these in-depth investigations. His stress test revealed an abnormality, prompting another test: a CT angiogram. This study showed a blockage, which was stented open during an invasive procedure. It is worth noting that at least two large randomized trials show that stenting these sorts of lesions does not improve survival. Because Mr. Bush had no symptoms, it is impossible that he felt better after these procedures.

Instead, George W. Bush will have to take two blood thinners, aspirin and Plavix, for at least a month and probably a year. (The amount of time a blood thinner is needed depends on the type of stent placed). While he takes these medications, he will have a higher risk of bleeding complications with no real benefit.

Although this may seem like an issue important only to the former president, consider the following: Although the price of excessive screening of so-called VIPs is usually paid for privately, follow-up tests, only “necessary” because of the initial unnecessary screening test, are usually paid for by Medicare, further stressing our health-care system. The media coverage of interventions like Mr. Bush’s also leads patients to pressure their own doctors for unwarranted and excessive care.