PhilHealth urged anew to support heart attack patients

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PhilHealth urged anew to support heart attack patients
By Ma. Teresa Montemayor

MANILA (Philippines News Agency) — A group of medical experts is again calling on the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) to subsidize the treatment of heart attack patients.

“Philhealth creates packages where they provide support to those with serious diseases, like the coronary artery bypass, but the one that is for heart attack – that is what we are trying to develop and appeal to them. It’s the PhilHealth benefit package for ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction (STEMI) services in the Philippines,” said Dr. Eric Sison, director of the Philippine Heart Association (PHA) Council on Cardiac Catheterization and Intervention during a health forum in Quezon City on Tuesday.

Sison explained that STEMI is a “very serious type” of heart attack in which one of the heart’s major arteries is blocked.

He added these arteries supply oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to the heart muscle.

“Heart disease is the leading cause of mortality covering 12.7 percent of all deaths in 2016 and STEMI has the highest rate of cardiovascular diseases with an average mortality rate of 10 percent based on the health facility records in the Philippines,” he said.

Sison said more than 42,000 people were admitted to hospitals due to acute myocardial or coronary syndrome, while 3,800 die every year of heart attack based on 2017 PhilHealth data.

“The most effective treatment for heart attack is primary angioplasty, where there is a balloon-like (object) inserted (in the heart) to open the clogged nerves, or the second line treatment is to give medicine, which could dissolve the clots and all must be given within 12 hours for them to be effective,” he said.

Unlike in other Southeast Asian countries, like Singapore and Thailand where 70 percent to 90 percent heart attack patients receive the treatment,

Sison said only 1 percent of the 25,000 Filipinos admitted in hospitals every year due to heart attack receive ideal treatment.

“Few of the reasons include the patient themselves don’t know the signs and symptoms of heart attack. Then, we still don’t have an effective ambulance system and there’s the lack of funds on the patients’ side because angioplasty and even thrombolytic therapy where the blood clots are dissolved, are quite costly,” he added.

Citing Philhealth as the primary health purchaser and source of funds for patients, Sison said the corporation could help decrease deaths caused by heart attack every year.

“What we’re proposing to PhilHealth is support from pre-hospital care, hospital urgent care, inpatient care until outpatient care when the person goes home and goes for regular follow-up and also the medicine so he or she will fully recover,” he said.

Sison added that PHA is still in discussions with PhilHealth to ensure the increase in the accessibility of treatment of heart attack.

“The good thing is that they are very supportive in the development of the package and they recognize the need for increasing support for those who need angioplasty. They could still be studying the cost if they would support the whole nation. And also, the evidence that our proposal could be applied and hopefully by the end of the year, we’re able to see a development,” he said. (PNA)

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