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Wednesday, October 25, 2006 9:00 AM

Research News: Common Heart Surgery May Be Made Safer

Rand: For people who need surgery to restore the blood supply to the heart, it may turn out that a less complex surgery is a good thing. For decades, patients have undergone a procedure called coronary artery bypass graft, or CABG surgery, in order to restore the heart’s blood supply. Traditionally, the CABG surgery has depended heavily on bypassing a patient’s heart and lungs and using a machine to take over their function. But according to a new study from AHRQ, many patients may be better off without this cardiopulmonary bypass which can cause stroke, abnormal heart rhythm or other problems. In recent years, cardiac surgeons have been trying to avoid this second bypass procedure by performing an off-pump CABG surgery. The new study, led by Doctor Art Sedrakyan, a cardiothoracic surgeon and health services researcher at AHRQ, is the first to document in randomized trials the significant stroke benefits of off-pump coronary artery bypass graft surgery. Specifically, the researchers found that the off-pump procedure could prevent approximately 10 strokes per 1,000 CABG procedures, which cuts the risk of stroke in half for patients undergoing the surgery. Approximately 280,000 CABG surgeries are performed each year in the United States. The full study is published in the November issue of "Stroke."

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