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Italian healthcare to reimburse ABI measurement from January 2024

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Cardiovascular diseases are the number one cause of mortality in the world, and Italy is no exception: cardiovascular diseases account for 44 % of all deaths. [1]

Preventive exams and early discovery are vital for changing these statistics. The Italian government has recently taken an important step towards fighting cardiovascular conditions at a national level. In April 2023, it approved a final decree on the reimbursement of 12.60 € for every Ankle-Brachial Index (ABI) measurement from January 2024 onwards. [2]

The Ankle-Brachial Index (ABI) is an important indicator of Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) – a condition that affects the arteries in the extremities, usually legs. Most people do not experience any symptoms, so the disease can go on undetected for many years and can result in leg amputations, stroke and even death. The ABI measuring only takes a few minutes, which makes it a very important weapon in fighting PAD.

The Italian healthcare system is public and reimburses a certain number of diagnostic services. The list of these services is called LEA (Livelli Essenziali di Assistenza/Essential Level of Assistance) and is defined by the central government. The services can be either be offered by public healthcare institutions (hospital or clinics) or private institutions that have a contract to provide these diagnostic services for the public system. In these two cases, the institutions receive a reimbursement each time they perform a diagnostic service from the LEA list.

The ABI was added to the LEA list in 2017, but the decree with the corresponding reimbursements was not issued until April 2023. Hopefully, this will lead to the ABI measurement becoming more widely used in public healthcare, with more early detections of blocked arteries and much better outcomes for the patients.