Heart stents might be just a placebo

Pediatrician, author, and medical school professor Dr Aaron Carroll surveys the evidence that cardiovascular stents, which are intended to help keep clogged heart arteries open, may be no better than treatment with drugs alone. One reason this is surprising is that patients who get stents typically have a marked reduction in chest pain, but the research suggests this might simply be a placebo effect.

Link: https://youtu.be/5TjsRjLQk_E

Placebos — sugar pills or sham treatments — are especially good at reducing all sorts of pain, at least for a substantial majority of patients. A clever drug dealer might try selling fake opioids, which could benefit a lot of people with chronic pain, and if they get addicted to a placebo, that’s not so bad. Actually, I’ve seen homeopathic drops sold for ear pain in name-brand pharmacies, which amounts to the same sort of thing. (Homeopathic remedies are substances thought to cause the symptoms they’re supposed to treat, but diluted to such an extreme that often not one molecule of the original substance remains. There are people who really believe in this despite both hard evidence and common sense.)

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Heart stents might be just a placebo — 2 Comments

  1. In case I didn’t mention this before, about a year ago I had severe middle back pain, which was something I hadn’t previously experienced and was really miserable, so after suffering with it a few days and being unable to see my regular doctor, I went to the hobble-in clinic for a major regional orthopedics practice, where I was seen by a very competent PA, diagnosed with likely muscle inflation, and given a prescription for prednisone. This was on a Friday, and having read the package insert I decided to wait until Monday to start taking it to increase the likelihood that someone would find the body.

    In 48 hours my back pain was completely gone, never to return. This, mind you, before I got around to taking any of the medication. This obviously leaves homeopathy and other placebo therapies in the dust. No need to dilute anything or even take a sugar pill; just have the bottle somewhere nearby. For that matter, finding a picture on line would work as well.

    Of course, if I had started taking it immediately I would have credited it with the cure, even though I would have recovered anyway. This is one reason experiments are superior to personal experience. It works the other way as well. I know someone who won’t take flu shots because she thinks she caught influenza from a vaccination once. She didn’t, of course. She merely came down with influenza right after getting a flu shot, which is bound to happen once in a while (in part because it takes a couple of weeks or so for the vaccine to take effect, and the vaccine is never 100% effective anyway). Influenza vaccination can have a number of possible side effects including a short period of flu-like symptoms, but they can’t actually cause influenza because they’re made with inactivated virus. (See this link.)

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