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Lifesaving Procedures for Heart Patients Increase by More Than a Third

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AHRQ News and Numbers

Release date: August 29, 2006

Use of percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty, or PTCA, a surgical procedure used to open plaque-narrowed or blocked arteries in hospital patients, increased from 581,000 to 791,000 between 1997 and 2004, according to the Department of Health and Human Services' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

  • PTCA, along with two other procedures used to diagnose heart cardiovascular problems—cardiac catheterization and echocardiogram—were among the 10 most-frequently performed non-obstetric procedures in U.S. hospitals in 2004.
  • In contrast to the increase in PTCA, use of coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG)—an operation that circumvents narrowed or blocked coronary arteries—fell 29 percent, from 431,000 in 1997 to 308,000 in 2004.
  • Cardiovascular procedures were most common among patients age 45 and older.
    • For example, among the 1.6 million cardiac catheterizations performed in hospitals in 2004, about 92 percent involved patients aged 45 and older.
    • Patients over 45 years of age also accounted for 95 percent of PTCA use.

AHRQ, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, works to improve the quality, safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of health care in the United States. The data in this AHRQ News and Numbers summary were drawn from the Agency's Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP), the nation's largest source of statistics on hospital inpatient care, regardless of insurance status or type of coverage.

To speak with an AHRQ data expert, contact Bob Isquith at or call (301) 427-1539.

Current as of August 2006


The information on this page is archived and provided for reference purposes only.


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