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Bypass Surgery Best for Some Heart Failure Patients
Date:4/4/2011

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, April 4 (HealthDay News) -- At first glance, patients suffering from heart failure because of blocked coronary arteries appear to fare as well in terms of overall survival whether they have bypass surgery or rely on medication alone, a new study seems to suggest.

However, after a closer look, the researchers found that bypass surgery does reduce the risk of dying from heart disease, and also the risk of death from any cause or hospitalization from heart disease, by as much as 50 percent, compared with medication alone.

"The trial supports bypass surgery on top of best medical therapy vs. best medical therapy alone to reduce cardiovascular morbidity and mortality," lead researcher Dr. Eric J. Velazquez, director of both the cardiac diagnostic unit and echocardiography laboratories at Duke University Medical Center, said during a Monday press conference.

Given these findings, heart failure patients who have never been assessed for coronary-artery disease should be, he added.

The results of the study, called the Surgical Treatment of Ischemic Heart Failure (STICH) trial, were presented Monday at the American College of Cardiology's annual meeting, in New Orleans.

For this multi-center study, 1,212 heart failure patients were randomly assigned to medication alone or medical therapy plus bypass surgery.

Over an average of five years of follow-up, the researchers found that patients who underwent bypass surgery reduced their risk of dying 14 percent compared with patients on medications alone. However, that reduction was not statistically significant, the researchers noted.

Bypass surgery did, however, significantly reduce the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease by 19 percent and the risk of death from any cause and hospitalization for heart disease by 26 percent, Velazquez said.

Going over the data, the researchers found that 55
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