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Stents overused to treat heart patients (2)

By Shan Juan (China Daily)

08:34, October 15, 2012

A single stent can be enough to save the lives of heart attack patients. But people suffering from stable angina, a condition arising from poor blood flow in the blood vessels of the heart, usually need three to five of the devices, he said.

"An intentional overuse of stents has become common on the mainland, a practice that must be changed immediately," he said.

Performing stent surgery can be highly profitable and patients have been known to pay as much as 27,000 yuan ($4,500) for a domestically produced stent that carries a factory price of 3,000 yuan.

The Ministry of Health has taken various steps to prevent the devices from being overused. The ministry now requires collective assessments for surgeries that use more than three stents.

Hu said these haven't been strictly adopted by hospitals.

William A. Zoghbi, president of the American College of Cardiology, suggested that China establish a registry system for heart stent operations.

"With that we can know exactly how it is being used in a particular city or hospital and ensure medicine is being practiced properly," he said.

Huo Yong, president-elect of the Chinese Society of Cardiology, said many heart attack patients in rural areas do not have the opportunity to undergo a stent procedure, either because they live far away from the places where those procedures are performed or because of economic reasons.

According to his estimates, 600,000 heart attack cases occur in China annually but only 20,000 of them lead to the use of heart stents.


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