Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death and disability in the United States and is likely to remain so in coming decades, he said.
"Having well-trained and experienced cardiothoracic surgeons is essential for providing high-quality care and achieving good outcomes for cardiovascular patients that require surgical procedures," Fonarow said. "Health-care reform efforts need to ensure that there will be adequate funding and resources to provide this critical training, meet patient care needs and sustain the practices of cardiothoracic surgeons."
However, not everyone agrees.
"I think it is unnecessary to worry about a doomsday when we don't have enough cardiac surgeons," said Dr. Byron Lee, an associate professor of cardiology at the University of California, San Francisco.
"The recent decline in cardiac surgeons is expected since more patients are appropriately getting stents instead of bypass operations," Lee said. "If the need for cardiac surgery increases in the future, I would expect market forces to lead to the training of more cardiac surgeons."
The American Heart Association has more on bypass surgery.
SOURCES: Atul Grover, M.D., Ph.D., director, government relations, Association of American Medical Colleges, Washington, D.C.; Gregg C. Fonarow, M.D., professor, cardiology, University of California, Los Angeles; Byron Lee, M.D., associate professor, cardiology, University of California, San Francisco; July 27, 2009, Circulation, online
All rights reserved