Surgical advances prevent deaths in older heart bypass patients

January 24, 2002

Time trends in survival and readmission following coronary artery bypass grafting in Scotland, 1981-96: retrospective observational study BMJ Volume 324, pp 201 - 202 The age of patients undergoing heart bypass operations has risen sharply, yet the risk of death within two years of the operation has declined, finds a study in this week's BMJ.

Researchers in Scotland identified all 25,229 coronary artery bypass operations performed in Scottish NHS hospitals from 1981 to 1996. The percentage of operations performed on patients aged over 65 increased from 2% to 30% in men and from 16% to 45% in women.

After adjusting for age, they found that the risk of death up to two years after the operation and the need for readmission to hospital declined significantly in men. Similar time trends were seen in women, but were not significant. However, this may simply reflect the fact that fewer procedures are carried out in women, say the authors.

These improvements are likely to reflect advances in surgical and anaesthetic techniques, they conclude.
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