It hasn't become quite as routine as having your teeth cleaned, but a growing number of people are going to hospitals to get their heart arteries unclogged and going home the same day. New research presented yesterday at an American Heart Association conference in Dallas suggests the approach is safe and found complications were no greater in people who went home a few hours after having angioplasty than in those who were hospitalized overnight.
Doctors have been reluctant to adopt the outpatient method but "this is the kind of study that's going to turn the trend," said Timothy Gardner, M.D., a Delaware cardiologist who heads the meeting committee but had no role in the research.
"Insurers are getting cranky" about hospital costs and will be enthused about ways to cut them, he said. Patients, however, might not like being rushed out the door. Some may view it as the cardiac equivalent of "drive-through deliveries," where new moms are sent home the day they give birth.