How Much Does a Heart Stent Cost?

How Much Does a Heart Stent Cost?

The cost of a heart stent depends on its type. Drug-eluting stents are costlier than bare-metal stents, because they slowly release a drug that prevents in-stent restenosis. This Buzzle article will tell you how much is the expected cost for a heart stent.
In medical vocabulary ...
A stent is a tubular-meshed structure that is inserted in the arteries or other large blood vessels to prevent a disease-induced constriction of blood flow.

The main purpose of inserting a stent in the blood vessel is to reduce chest pain (angina) and improve the survival chances of a person.
The first and simplest type of stent is called a bare-metal stent (BMS). This stent is sometimes made up of cobalt-chromium alloy or just plain 316L stainless steel.
An inserted stent may cause thrombosis (clotting of blood). Patients having comorbidities, such as diabetes or hypertension, or are on blood-thinning drugs, such as warfarin are at an increased risk of stent thrombosis. Hence, they require the second type of stent called the drug-eluting stent (DES). Even though they release drugs that prevent restenosis (recurrence of stenosis), there is a delay in wound healing and endothelialization (formation of endothelial cell covering on the stent).
The innovation of a bio-engineered stent proved groundbreaking for the above-mentioned problem. They have an antibody surface coating to which the circulating endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) adhere and form an endothelial layer that reduces the chances of thrombosis.
Benefits of Stents
After the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the voluntary implantation of stents in 1994, the stent market has now reached the $5 billion mark approximately. It is the benefits of stent implantation over a bypass surgery that has made it so popular. Some of the commonly observed benefits are:
  • Cheaper and safer (than bypass surgery)
  • Lesser hospital stay
  • Reduced risk of complications
  • Minimally invasive
  • Reduced requirement of general anesthesia
Many medical device-making companies have survived the stent market after overcoming several product recalls and lawsuits filed by the patients. It is estimated that around 60% people in the US and some European countries have drug-eluting stent implants. The decision of implanting either a drug-eluting stent or bare-metal stent depends totally on the doctor. But it is seen that at least 10-15% of those who have been implanted with a drug-eluting stent could have done equally well with a bare-metal stent.
Average Cost of Stents
Type Avg. Cost
Bare-metal stent less than $1000
Drug-eluting stent less than $1700
Bio-engineered/Dual-therapy stent less than $4000

It is seen that the prices of the drug-coated stents are usually three times the price of the bare metallic counterparts. The cost of the heart stents also depends on the brand and market position of its manufacturing company.
Country-wise Pricing
The prices differ according to countries. Many of the developing countries quote double the price compared to the developed countries because there is no 'price controlling' or 'fair pricing' mechanism for medical devices.
Country Average Cost
Germany €350 (approx. $460)
Europe €600 (approx. $790)
India Rs. 60,000 (approx. $1000)

The pricing also depends on every country's regulating bodies. Currently, there has been a drop in the prices of the FDA-approved stents. Also, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) declared that hospitals should not buy drug-eluting stents that are £300 (approx. $460) more expensive than the bare-metal ones.
Cost of Angioplasty
As far as angioplasty (procedure for widening obstructed blood vessel) is concerned, if you do not have any health insurance cover, it will cost anywhere between $11,000 to $41,000. It depends on the type and number of stents used. If you are insured, then the same procedure may cost around $11,000-36,000 because the bill will include some insurance discounts and hospitalization deductibles.
Summing it up, it can be said that at times, stents are being used when they are actually not required. Inserting a stent is a procedure that relieves heart pain (angina), but does not rule out the possibility of occurrence of another blockage. Therefore, the decision should be taken only after a thorough investigation by an experienced doctor.
Disclaimer: This Buzzle article is for informative purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for professional medical advice.