Two new reports on heart treatment

Two new reports in the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare's Cardiovascular Disease Series (CVD) provide details about specific heart treatments for the latest years for which data are available.

Coronary Angioplasty in Australia 1996 and Cardiac Surgery in Australia 1995 have been jointly produced by the AIHW and the National Heart Foundation of Australia. The reports are the latest in a series tracking cardiac procedures in Australia since the mid-1990s when the advent of new techniques introduced significant changes in practice.

Coronary Angioplasty in Australia 1996 covers patterns and trends in the use of the percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty technique-commonly known as coronary angioplasty or PTCA-as well as its indications, complications and success rates.

Co-author of the report, Ms Susana Senes, said there were an estimated 13,854 coronary angioplasty procedures in Australia in 1996, 22% more than the previous year. 'Angioplasty is three times as common in men as it is in women and patients are most frequently between 60 and 79 years old,' Ms Senes said.

The report shows that there were 13,518 hospitalisations involving PTCA procedures, with an average length of stay of 5.5 days. Stable angina and unstable angina remain the main indications for coronary angioplasty, but the report shows heart attacks are also becoming a significant indication for the treatment.

The treatment is generally successful, with over 86% of patients treated in 1996 being discharged from hospital with an adequate reduction of all lesions and no angina or complications.

'An interesting finding is that there has been a doubling over the previous year in the use of stents-metal mesh tubes used to keep the arteries open. They were inserted in 54% of PTCA patients in 1996,' Ms Senes said.

Cardiac Surgery in Australia 1995 covers patterns and trends in the use of different heart surgery procedures for acquired and congenital conditions, and associated deaths. It shows that more than 21,000 cardiac surgery procedures were performed in 1995, a 3.6% increase over the previous year.

Other findings in the report include:

  • There were an estimated 17,150 operations involving coronary artery bypass grafts.
  • More than 1,600 operations were for congenital heart defects. Septal defects were the main single reasons for congenital heart surgery.
  • More than 100 people received new hearts in Australia in 1995. This included 13 combined heart-lung transplants.

AIHW medical adviser, Dr Paul Magnus, said the two reports would be of great interest to cardiac surgeons, cardiologists, hospital planners, pharmaceutical and equipment manufacturers, policy advisers and researchers.


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