Angioplasty & Heart Bypass Surgery

Published: July 27, 2013

Cardiovascular surgical procedures like heart bypass surgery and angioplasty are quite common in Australia for those suffering from heart disease. Thanks to trauma insurance benefits and medical advancement, these surgical procedures are becoming more and more common.

Here we answer some questions on the medical aspects of heart bypass surgery and angioplasty, including relevant definitions, what each type of procedure involves, along with other aspects relevant to the specific benefits defined under trauma insurance coverage.

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Medical reasons to undergo an angioplasty or heart bypass surgery

Angioplasty and heart bypass surgery are two different approaches used in the medical management of symptoms and conditions arising from coronary artery disease (CAD) (heart disease), which affect the normal functioning of the heart.

‘Atherosclerosis’ is a medical term that describes the process of cholesterol and plaque build-up on the inner walls of arteries which supply blood to the heart (1). As this buildup increases, the affected arteries become hardened and narrower, with the resulting reduction in blood flow leading to symptoms of angina (or chest pain) and other cardio vascular issues.

One particular cause of a blocked coronary artery is a blood clot, which could (in turn) be caused by a rupture of plaque in an artery, resulting in a coronary thrombus or occlusion that causes the heart attack. Medical intervention via angioplasty or heart bypass surgery is typically indicated in the treatment of an acute heart attack episode, or otherwise to reduce the risk of a future heart attack by treating CAD.

Coronary artery disease is the most common type of heart disease in Australia, and was a leading specific cause of death in 2007, accounting for just over 17 per cent of all male deaths and almost 16 per cent of deaths in females (2).

Heart failure & heart attack risk

In addition to the increased heart attack risk, CAD can also weaken the heart muscle over time and thus resulting in certain related conditions, such as changes in the heart’s ‘normal’ beating rhythm (arrhythmia or atrial fibrillation), or the heart’s inability to efficiently pump blood to the rest of the body (heart failure) (3).

According to a recent report (2) by the Australian Institute of Health & Welfare (AIHW), CAD was ranked first among the specific leading causes of the burden of disease and injury in Australia, as projected for 2010.

Increasing rate of angioplasty compared to heart bypass

In the past few decades, we have seen several important advances in medicine, including the use of cardiovascular procedures to improve health outcomes and reduce the risk death in people affected by coronary heart disease. Trauma insurance has been vital in financially preparing Australians for the medical cost of such surgical procedures.

According to a report by the AIHW published in June this year (2), the rate of angioplasty procedures in Australia almost doubled during the period from 1996-97 to 2007-08, to reach 155 per 100,000 people, whereas the rate of heart bypass procedures fell from 99 to 61 over the same timeframe.

Although the rate of PCIs appears to have dropped slightly during the annual period from 2007-08, the AIHW report reflects that the actual number of such procedures remained very high during that timeframe, at approximately 35,000.

Trauma insurance can help heart disease survivors

The available data and observed trends reflect the substantive impact of CAD in Australia, including the ongoing use of angioplasty and heart bypass procedures in the treatment of this condition. Accordingly, it is essential that Australians are aware of such trends and implications, specifically in the context of the availability of relevant trauma insurance benefits, to facilitate well-informed discussions with their family.

A critical illness like heart disease can be prepared for taking out adequate trauma insurance. Compare trauma insurance quotes and consider your options.


1. National Heart Foundation of Australia 2010 –

2. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2010. Australia’s health 2010. Australia’s health series no. 12. Cat. no. AUS 122. Canberra: AIHW, 3. National Heart Foundation of Australia 2010 –

Source: CommInsure 2010

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