Heart procedure becomes more common
A less invasive procedure to open the heart’s clogged blood supply has exploded, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reports.
Percutaneous coronary intervention — also known as angioplasty, balloon angioplasty and percutaneous transluminal angioplasty — is performed when a doctor inserts a balloon-tipped catheter from an artery in the groin to an artery in the heart. The doctor inflates the balloon, compressing the plaque that lines the artery, widening it to increase blood flow. Doctors also often implant a metal stent that keeps the artery open.
The goal is the have the patient’s artery “inflated” within 90 minutes of arriving at the hospital. This is called the “door-to-balloon time” and improves survival rates considerably.
PCI, the agency reports, “is now used nearly three times more often than the older and more invasive coronary artery bypass graft surgery.”
The number of angioplasties from 1993 to 2005 rose from slightly more than 400,000 a year to 800,000 a year.
Heart bypass surgeries rose from 344,000 to 426,000 a year between 1993 and 1997, and then declined to 278,000 a year by 2005.
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