New report shows marked increase in coronary stent use

The use of coronary stents in heart procedures has increased significantly in two years, according to a new report jointly released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and the National Heart Foundation of Australia.

Coronary Angioplasty in Australia 1998 shows that stents-metal mesh tubes used to keep the arteries open-were inserted in 87% of angioplasty patients in 1998. This was a marked increase in the use of stents since 1996, when 54% of angioplasty patients received stents.

Co-author of the report, Joanne Davies, said there were an estimated 18,094 coronary angioplasty procedures in Australia in 1998-a 14% increase over the previous year. Coronary angioplasty is a technique used to restore adequate blood flow to blocked coronary arteries.

'Angioplasty is three times as common in men as it is in women, and most patients are between 60 and 80 years old,' Ms Davies said.

There were 17,873 hospitalisations involving angioplasty procedures, with an average length of stay of 3.7 days. Angina remains the main reason for doing coronary angioplasty. However, it is also being increasingly used in the early treatment of heart attacks.

The treatment is generally successful, with over 96% of patients treated in 1998 being discharged from hospital with an adequate opening of the affected arteries and no angina or other complications.

Cardiac Surgery in Australia 1998, also released today, shows that the number of cardiac surgery operations performed in Australia was 22,253, which is 445 operations on average for each cardiac surgery unit. The national surgery rate was 1,188 per million population, with a 2.6% death rate.

Other findings in the reports include:

  • By far the most common heart operation was coronary artery bypass grafting-accounting for almost 17,500 operations in 1998 or about 48 operations per day.
  • More than 1,500 operations were for congenital heart defects.
  • Seventy-two heart transplants were performed in Australia in 1998, and 4 combined heart-lung transplants.

Coronary Angioplasty in Australia 1998 and Cardiac Surgery in Australia 1998 are the latest in a series of reports tracking cardiac procedures in Australia to keep up with important developments that introduce significant changes in practice. The reports have been jointly produced by the AIHW and the National Heart Foundation of Australia.

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