What every angioplasty patient needs to know

It's a "simple" procedure with dangerous -- even DEADLY -- consequences.

And it's not because of the procedure itself.

It's because of the DOCTORS who perform it!

New research exposes a staggering level of incompetence among many of the docs who perform what's called a percutaneous coronary intervention, or PCI. It's a type of angioplasty with a stent done to help improve the flow of blood around your heart to clear blockages, reduce angina, and even help you heal after a heart attack.

Most docs act like it's no big deal and promise that you'll be in and out of the hospital in 24 hours or less.

But the new study shows how many patients, especially older patients, are sent home with a frightening "extra" from the PCI.

They have lasting and even PERMANENT kidney damage.

Overall, 7 percent of PCI patients suffer kidney injury. But some docs are worse than others, with nearly a third of their patients battling acute kidney injury -- and it's all because of a dumb and completely avoidable mistake!

This procedure involves placing a stent into a blood vessel of the heart. When docs slide the catheter up into position, it releases a little bit of contrast dye so they can watch it all unfold via X-rays.

And that's the problem.

Some docs are pumping out way too much of that dye, which eventually makes its way to the kidneys.

Healthy kidneys can generally handle a little dye. But if you have a higher risk of kidney problems or are already suffering from kidney damage, that dye could gum things up.

You need much lower levels... or even none at all.

Yet the new study finds docs AREN'T checking their patients for kidney risk and AREN'T limiting or eliminating contrast dye.

In fact, some docs use SIX TIMES the dye of others, even in at-risk patients!

The researchers told MedPageToday that the importance of cutting dye doses in patients facing a higher risk of kidney problems is "not universally recognized."

That's a fancy way of saying docs are clueless on this one.

So, if you're scheduled for a PCI or any other procedure that uses contrast dye, that means you need to clue him in -- especially if you know you're at risk of kidney problems.

If you're not sure what your kidney risk is, talk to your doc about that as well.

Then, if you go through with the procedure, be sure to take vitamin E supplements afterward, as studies show this nutrient can cut the risk of kidney injury from contrast dye.