AHA adjusts angioplasty stats to lower annual figure

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The American Heart Association (AHA) has significantly revised downward the number of coronary angioplasties performed annually, according to the Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics 2011 Update published last week.

The AHA's new method of reporting PCIs 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, according to the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions (SCAI).

The society also said 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 600,000 in this analysis of 2007 data.

The AHA's Statistics report is a widely cited resource on the prevalence and treatment of cardiovascular disease in the U.S.

Previously, the AHA had used the larger number, but had cited 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.

Data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) corroborate the significantly smaller number of PCIs performed annually in the U.S., and 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 CABG) increased 32 percent between 1993 and 2008, a period when the U.S. population grew by 17 percent.

"SCAI welcomes this clarification of the number of PCIs performed annually, as accuracy about procedural volume is of utmost importance," said Larry S. Dean, MD, SCAI president and director of the University of Washington (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 will have a new perspective on the growth of interventional procedures in recent years."

The complete update is now published online.