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Affordable, Quality Care for Heart Patients

Prior to the introduction of health reforms, tariffs were not fixed on medications, and the meager share of the government in paying for cardiac healthcare pushed up considerably the costs of the services
Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the leading cause of death among Iranians, claiming 51% of the annual mortality rate.Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the leading cause of death among Iranians, claiming 51% of the annual mortality rate.

Treatment and healthcare services have become more affordable for people with cardiovascular diseases under the 2014 Health Reform Plan.

Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the leading cause of death among Iranians, claiming 51% of the annual mortality rate. According to the latest figures, around 375,000 deaths were registered in the previous year that ended in March.

The costs of open heart surgery, electrophysiology, angiography, heart stent procedures and valve replacement have come down by 54%, 47%, 66%, 83% and 50%, respectively. Also the price of each stent has reduced by 60%, costing $400 (16 million rials) from the previous $1000 (40 million rials).

“Prior to the introduction of health reforms, medical services for heart patients, as well as cardiac surgeries and cardiac medications were very expensive,” said Dr Mojtaba Salarifar a board member of Tehran University of Medical Sciences, adding that medical costs for heart surgeries in particular have reduced, after revisions were made under the plan.

Heart surgeries and cardiac services are now more affordable. “Earlier, tariffs were not fixed on medications, and the meager share of the government (insurance  companies) in paying for cardiac healthcare pushed up considerably the costs of the services,” he said, Salamatonline reported.

Under the plan, the Health Ministry brought down the people’s share of hospitalization costs to 8.5% from the previous 37% in state-run hospitals.

Following health reforms, hospitals were committed to provide medical products and medications directly to patients instead of the latter getting them from sources outside the hospital. This measure fixed the prices of medical supplies and thus prevented patients’ exploitation.

Unfair international sanctions were also culpable for medicine and medical supply shortages and high costs of medical devices, Salarifar added.

  Preventive Measures

Among the 95,000 people who lose their lives prematurely to CVDs in Iran, 35,000 are under 55 years, although 50% of such cases can be prevented through measures such as healthy lifestyles, timely checkups, and physical exercise.

Mortality rate in the 30-70 years group in Iran is high with statistics indicating that 25% of the total deaths registered are among people in this age bracket, prompting health officials to improve preventive strategies.

Likelihood of premature mortality from the four main non-communicable diseases (NCDs) between ages 30 and 70 years is 17%.

The Health Ministry has developed plans in line with the targets set by the World Health Organization as well as Iran’s National Document in Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases which aim to address the key risk factors and reduce mortality in the aforementioned age group within 10 years (2015-2025).

Health experts believe that the mechanical lifestyle especially in large cities with daily stress, lack of physical activity and changes in eating habits like greater consumption of junk food as against home-made  meals, as well as widespread use of cigarettes and tobacco are among the main factors that have inflated the risks of NCDs.

Under the national document, one of the main targets is to reduce deaths caused by cardiovascular, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory disorders by 25%.

Improving physical exercise, reducing salt consumption and smoking by 30%, high blood pressure by 25% as well as controlling obesity and diabetes are among other objectives of the document. The level of trans fatty acids in cooking oil and other food products will also be reduced to zero.

Globally, 38 million deaths due to non-communicable diseases (NCDs) occur before the age of 70; almost three-quarter of these premature deaths or 28 million occur in low and middle-income countries. Cardiovascular diseases account for most NCD deaths, or 17.5 million people annually, followed by cancers (8.2 million), respiratory diseases (4 million), and diabetes (1.5 million).

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