Cardiovascular disease procedures among women

Many procedures are used to diagnose and treat CVD – they identify the type, severity and location of problems, and treat problems once they have been identified.

Among women hospitalised in 2015–16, there were:

  • 31,000 coronary angiographies (26 per 100 selected CVD hospitalisations)
  • 9,500 percutaneous coronary interventions (20 per 100 coronary heart disease hospitalisations)
  • 1,900 coronary artery bypass grafts (4.2 per 100 coronary heart disease hospitalisations)
  • 5,400 pacemaker insertions (3.8 per 100 selected CVD hospitalisations)
  • 836 cardiac defibrillator implants (0.9 per 100 selected CVD hospitalisations)
  • 607 carotid endarterectomies (2.3 per 100 selected CVD hospitalisations)
  • 38 heart transplants (0.3 per 100,000 hospitalisations).

Types of CVD procedures

Coronary angiography provides a picture of the coronary arteries. A catheter is guided to the heart, and a special dye is released into the coronary arteries when an X-ray is taken.

Percutaneous coronary intervention is used to restore blood flow to blocked coronary arteries. Two types of procedures are used:

  • coronary angioplasty (inserting a catheter with a small balloon into a coronary artery, which is inflated to clear the blockage)
  • coronary stenting (inserting a stent – an expandable mesh tube – into affected coronary arteries).

Coronary artery bypass graft is a surgical procedure using blood vessel grafts to bypass blockages in the coronary arteries, and restore adequate blood flow to the heart muscle.

Cardiac defibrillator implants are devices implanted into a patient’s chest that monitor the heart rhythm, and deliver electric shocks to the heart when required to eliminate abnormal rhythms.

Carotid endarterectomy is a procedure where atherosclerotic plaques are surgically removed from the carotid arteries in the neck, which supply blood to the brain. This procedure is used to reduce the risk of stroke caused by blockage.

Heart transplant involves implanting a working heart from a recently deceased organ donor into a patient. This procedure is usually used for the treatment of the most severe forms of heart failure or coronary heart disease.

In the 10 years to 2015–16, overall procedure rates for women, after adjusting for age, rose for coronary angiography, percutaneous coronary interventions, pacemaker insertion, and cardiac defibrillator implants. Rates fell for carotid endarterectomy procedures over this period.

The rate of coronary angiography rose with age up to those aged 55–64, then fell in the older age groups (Figure 6).

Figure 6: Coronary angiography procedures among women, by age group, 2015–16 (number and rate)

Line chart of procedures per 100 hospitalisations and number of procedures

Source: AIHW National Hospital Morbidity Database