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Heart surgery no better than medical treatment

Open-heart surgery does not achieve better results than the best medical therapy (medications + diet + exercise) fro some patients with coronary artery disease, according to studies presented at the recent American College of Cardiology meeting.

According to the Columbus Dispatch,

In the main study, more than 1,200 patients were randomly assigned to medical therapy alone or medication plus surgery. There was no significant difference when it came to survival.

The second study of the same group of patients found that some tests used to predict who will benefit from surgery are not effective at identifying which treatment will increase the chances of survival.

Health News Review gives five stars to the Wall St Journal’s coverage:

The story makes it clear that … this study will be surprising to many clinicians because of a long-held assumption that surgery is the superior option. Studies published in the early 1990s supported the view that bypass surgery provided a better long term outcome.

Failing to talk about costs of the alternative approaches is the only weakness in the WSJ story, the review said. Surgery costs more than $60,000, while intensive medical therapy costs only $2,000 a year.

Bill Sez: What will cardiologists do with this information, surprising as it may be? Some MDs are known to trust their own “clinical judgment” more than scientific findings, even though the science is peer-reviewed and their judgment is not.

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Categories: Health care
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