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New Report Shows Angioplasty Is Performed Half as Often as Previously Reported

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December 16, 2010 -- The American Heart Association's (AHA) Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics 2011 Update, published this week, significantly revises downward the number of coronary angioplasties performed annually. The AHA's new method of reporting percutaneous coronary interventions (PCI) avoids a past practice of duplicative counting, wherein a single procedure including balloon angioplasty to open a blocked artery and stent implantation to prop the artery open was counted twice. This more accurate method of counting PCI procedures reduces the number of PCIs recorded per year by approximately half, from nearly 1.3 million reported for 2006 in the 2010 report to 0.6 million in this year's analysis of 2007 data.

The AHA's Statistics report is a widely cited resource on the prevalence and treatment of cardiovascular disease in the United States. It provides important perspective on progress in the ongoing fight against cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death and disability in the country.

Following feedback from the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions (SCAI), the AHA reconsidered its presentation of the data. Previously they had used the larger number, but had noted two pages later in a table note that it was based on double counting the 91 percent of PCIs that included a balloon angioplasty and a stent placement.

"SCAI welcomes this clarification of the number of PCIs performed annually, as accuracy about procedural volume is of utmost importance as the country develops strategies for improving healthcare systems and reducing costs," said Larry S. Dean, M.D., FSCAI, SCAI president and director of the UW Medicine Regional Heart Center and professor of Medicine and Surgery at the UW School of Medicine in Seattle. "It should give everyone pause to realize that the main citation was incorrectly doubled. We hope government agencies, healthcare economists, journalists, and others participating in the healthcare debate with new perspective on the growth of interventional procedures in recent years."

Data from the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality (AHRQ) corroborates the significantly smaller number of PCIs performed annually in the United States. The most recent AHRQ report indicates 688,036 angioplasties were performed in 2007.

These data are particularly relevant to analyses about use of revascularization procedures in recent years. Calculations using AHRQ data suggest the number of heart revascularizations (PCI and bypass surgery) increased 32 percent between 1993 and 2008, a period when the U.S. population grew by 17 percent.

Source: The Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions