The surgery, known as PCI or percutaneous coronary intervention, is a costly procedure and researchers feel doctors do not perform adequate tests to find if this surgery is really warranted.
"It's important to document that patients are receiving PCI for appropriate indications to ensure the optimal use of Medicare resources," said lead researcher Dr. Grace Lin.
The researchers examined whether doctors advised stress tests before advising surgery. "What really matters is whether or not that blockage is affecting blood flow to the heart. That is why the stress test is important," Lin said.
The researchers examined insurance claims in 2004 from Medicare beneficiaries and found that less than 50% of the patients had undergone stress tests.
The details of the study appear in the Journal of the American Medical Association.