Government and Health Care

Hospital receives approval to perform elective angioplasty

October 20, 2016
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Metro Health Hospital's rooftop garden is the second-largest green roof in Michigan. Courtesy Metro Health

A hospital in the area has received approval from the state to perform elective percutaneous coronary intervention, commonly known as angioplasty, in its cardiac catheterization laboratories.

Metro Health said it has received approval from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to perform the service without on-site open-heart surgery services.

The non-surgical procedure restores blood flow through heart vessels by using catheters with balloons and stents.

Metro Health said for more than a decade its physicians have been performing the procedure on the most critical patients — those suffering a heart attack when they enter the hospital.

Now, Metro Health will be able to offer this service to its patients who enter the hospital with chest pain or other conditions prompting diagnostic procedures leading to elective or scheduled non-emergency PCI.

Previously, Metro Health patients requiring elective PCI had to be transferred to facilities that also offered backup open-heart surgery services.

A change in state regulations, which Metro Health said was prompted by quality data showing that PCI programs without open-heart surgery services in other states and Europe have quality indicators “as high as those programs with open-heart surgery services” and acceptance of the practice by the American College of Cardiology, made it possible for MDHHS to approve the Certificate of Need request.

Paul Kovack, a cardiologist at Metro Heart and Vascular, said being able to offer elective PCI to patients without transferring them to other institutions is “a win for patient care.” He also said it’s something patients have been asking for.

Kovack said not having to transfer patients to other institutions will also save money by cutting down on “unnecessary duplicate testing, costly ambulance transfers and delays in care,” making care “more timely and less costly.”

Michael Faas, president and CEO of Metro Health, said while the CON process is “valuable in holding down costs” for Michigan residents, it can be “challenging to update regulations” to reflect new medical research.

“It is a delicate balancing act to keep up with medical advances and hold down health care costs,” Faas said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for more than 600,000 deaths each year.

PCI is a procedure that uses a thin flexible tube, or catheter, to access blood vessels in the heart which are narrowed or blocked by plaque buildup, or atherosclerosis, and reopen them.

The procedure is performed by an interventional cardiologist who gains access to blood vessels in the heart through the femoral artery in the groin or the radial artery in the wrist. A small balloon is then inflated to push away the plaque, thus opening the blood vessel for blood flow, and a stent can be placed to keep the plaque pushed to the walls of the blood vessel, thus maintaining the blood vessel open for blood flow.

The PCI procedure can last from 30 minutes to several hours.

Benefits of the procedure include increased blood flow through the blocked artery; decreased chest pain; and increased ability to be physically active.

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