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Bypass boosts survival in heart failure, 10-year study says

Bypass boosts survival in heart failure, 10-year study says
Health
CHICAGO -- Heart failure patients with clogged arteries have a better chance of surviving 10 years if they get bypass surgery plus medicine rather than just drugs alone, according to an international study.

Earlier results from the same research raised questions about the benefits of bypass versus medicine alone, but researchers say the long-term evidence clearly favours the surgery.

The lead author of the study, Duke University cardiologist Dr. Eric Velazquez, said the results "are so definitive and so robust" that they would likely to lead to stronger recommendations favouring bypass surgery for these patients.

Nearly 6 million Americans and 23 million people worldwide have heart failure, and many of them also have artery disease similar to those studied. In recent years, bypass surgery has increasingly been recommended for such patients, along with medicines to ease heart failure symptoms.

The 10-year results were published online Sunday in the New England Journal of Medicine and presented at an American College of Cardiology meeting in Chicago.

The study involved 1,200 heart failure patients in 22 countries, including the United States. Most were men around age 60 when the study began. All were taking heart medicines, and about half were assigned to also get bypass surgery.

More than half the patients in each group lived beyond the study s first phase. The 10-year results are a look back at all patients studied.

A total of 359 bypass patients died from any cause, or about 59 per cent, compared with 398 medicine-only patients who died, or 66 per cent.

A journal editorial published with the study says the latest results "solidly support" strengthening treatment guidelines to say that bypass surgery is "probably beneficial" for these patients.

The long-term results "are very encouraging" and confirm what many doctors believed about potential benefits of bypass for these patients, said Dr. Ted Feldman, a cardiologist at NorthShore University HealthSystem in Evanston, Illinois. Feldman was not involved in the study.
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