Summary of The Power of the Placebo

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Among health care professionals, there is a strong emphasis on evidence-based medicine to determine what treatments to prescribe. Cardiologist Ethan Weiss reports on a new study that investigates the value of angioplasty for heart patients. The study found no benefit for stable chest pain when compared to a placebo. This controversial finding could influence how doctors treat their cardiac patients. getAbstract recommends this article to those interested in the pursuit of scientific truth.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How stents save patients’ lives when inserted during a heart attack,
  • How a study known as ORBITA found that stents do not appear to help people with stable chest pain and
  • How the placebo effect could account for the study’s result.

About the Author

Ethan Weiss, MD, is a cardiologist and associate professor at the University of California, San Francisco.



Stents save patients’ lives when inserted during a heart attack.

A stent is a small wire mesh that a doctor inserts and inflates in a blocked artery. Throughout life, arteries gain a mixture of fats that build into plaques. In the 1980s, studies reported that plaques sometimes broke apart and caused heart attacks. Medical innovators developed a method known as angioplasty, or ‘stenting.’ Angioplasty works by expanding blocked vessels and should reduce pain and the chance of death. Medical professionals use this method to treat stable...

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