Los Angeles Times, April 5, 2011

Bypass surgery is better for patients with severe heart failure than standard medical therapy, but not by a lot, and many patients who don't want to undergo surgery may do just as well without it, researchers said Monday. In the first new trial in three decades to compare bypass surgery and conventional treatment, researchers found that improvements in medical therapy—particularly the use of drugs such as beta blockers to lower blood pressure and statins to reduce cholesterol—have sharply narrowed the effectiveness gap between the two approaches, doctors reported at a New Orleans meeting of the American College of Cardiology. Bypass surgery made patients in the trial slightly less likely to die from heart disease compared with patients treated with drugs alone. But at the end of five years, surgery provided no significant improvement in overall survival compared with medical therapy alone.
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