There isn’t any question that given the clear choice between suffering a potentially fatal heart attack and having the artery opening procedure called angioplasty, the prudent thing to do is to stack the deck in your favor and open those arteries.

But there is a serious question about the use of angioplasty as a preventive measure. In other words, if you are not in imminent danger of a heart attack and arteries that have begun to clog are treatable with medicine, is the risk of an invasive procedure still prudent and reasonable. Recent studies have shown that there appears to be enough inappropriate recommendations for the procedure that the American Heart Association and others will be releasing new guidelines within a few months regarding when an angioplasty should be set aside for treatment through cholesterol lowering and clot busting drugs combined with exercise.

Medically this is a huge issue. From a life insurance standpoint it can make the difference after the diagnosis of how soon a person can get life insurance and how much they will pay. If a person is found to have blockage that is successfully treated medically and those results can be substantiated on a subsequent stress test they could be looking at standard rates, possibly better, within six months. If they have an angioplasty, whether it was needed or not, it will be at least a year and a good stress test and then the rates will generally be higher than standard rates.

The good news is that, given a good stress test, either way you would be insurable. The bad news is that an over zealous doctor might do more damage than just handing you a large cardiologist’s bill.

Bottom line. Second opinion, second opinion, second opinion……unless you are having a heart attack.