Heart patients may not need surgery, study shows

    Heart catheterization (illustrative)


    A federally-funded study of 5,179 participants in 37 countries showed that heart attack patients may not need surgery after all.

    The study, called Ischemia, examined the use of traditional preventive measures in patients with heart disease who are at serious risk of heart attack.

    Ischemia was conducted by researchers at the Stanford School of Medicine and New York University’s medical school.Presented Saturday at the American Heart Association’s annual meeting, the $100-million study will soon appear in a peer-reviewed journal.

    The participants took a stress test and received lifestyle advice and medicines to improve heart health. Half of them also underwent a CT scan and then continued to take medications. The other half were taken to cardiac catheterization labs for angiograms. Three-fourths of these patients underwent angioplasty, while the rest underwent bypass surgery.

    After one year, 7% of those who underwent surgery had had a heart event, compared to 5% of those who were treated only with medications. After four years, however, 13% of those who had underwent surgery had had a heart event, compared to 15% of those treated only with medications.

    On average, during the seven-year study, no statistically significant differences between the groups were noticed over the course of the study.

    However, despite the similarity in prognosis, those who had underwent an invasive procedure said they suffered less chest pain than those who relied solely on medications.


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