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Federal Study Shows Some Heart Surgery Not Necessary

surgeryREUTERS / Petr Josek

  • New federal research has found that common heart surgery to remove blockages in the arteries – such as bridges – is unnecessary because they can be treated with drug therapy.
  • Patients could save $ 775 million a year if they didn't perform surgery, a doctor told The New York Times.
  • The study "will certainly challenge our clinical thinking," said Dr. Alice Jacobs, director of the University of Boston Cath Lab and Interventional Cardiology.
  • For more stories, visit the Business Insider homepage.

Dangerous heart surgeries, such as deviations, may not be necessary, according to new federal research.

Patients who received single drug therapy without surgery for blocked arteries had no more heart attacks than those who had surgery, the study found, challenging decades of common medical knowledge.

In a study of more than 5,000 people, the most tangible benefit of surgery such as deviations and stents was to help people with chest pain or angina.

"You would think that if you correct the block, the patient will feel better or better," said Dr. Alice Jacobs, director of the Boston University Interventional Cardiology and Cath Lab in The New York Times.

The study, she said, "will surely challenge our clinical thinking."

Another doctor estimated to the Times that patients who choose drug therapy rather than surgery could save about $ 775 million a year.

The $ 100 million study was presented on Saturday at the American Heart Association's annual meeting and is the latest addition to a division of experts on how to treat artery blockages.

Stents and other artery removal devices have been challenged for years, but this research, called Ischemia, was the most thorough and controlled, doctors told the Times.

"This is an extraordinarily important study," Glenn Levine, director of cardiac treatment at Baylor Medical School in Houston, told The Times.

Levine, who is on the American Heart Association's guideline committee, said the study would be incorporated into treatment guidelines.

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