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Opinion

Did Bush Need That Stent?

Here's a provocative question: Was former President George W. Bush, who underwent a coronary stent last week, an example of over-treatment that followed over-testing?

Bush, 67, exercises a lot and had no symptoms of heart disease when he went for his annual physical. A stress test led to a diagnosis of clogged coronary artery and intervention, not to mention prolonged anticoagulant therapy for a long time afterward.

His procedure led to two drastically different conclusions: A column in the Palm Beach Post  says Bush's stress test results are an example of why we should all have annual check-ups lest a problem be missed.

But a column in the Washington Post by an oncology fellow at National Cancer Institute and a professor of medicine suggests that the intervention likely did more harm than good. They argue that the stress test wasn't indicated in the first place and that research shows the resulting stent offers no benefit in terms of outcomes -- better quality-of-life or longer life.