Doctors have several options when they need to open the arteries that lead to a patient's heart. But a new study from the University of Albany shows that one procedure may be better than the others. Researchers studied almost 8,000 heart patients and compared the outcomes of two common treatments for blocked arteries: coronary-artery bypass surgery (where the blood vessels are re-routed to bypass the clogged arteries), and drug-filled stents (that prop open the arteries and deliver beneficial drugs).
The researchers favored the bypass. Dr. Joseph Carrozza of Beth Israel Hospital said, "This study showed that at 18 months patients are less likely to have a heart attack or to die if they have bypass surgery." Dr. Jeffrey Moses of New York Presbyterian-Columbia added, "It is really a matter of whether the patient wants to go for the gold and have the marginal mortality benefit or go for something that is a tiny bit more risky and avoid all the surgery altogether."
Even though surgery may be the better option in the long term, the study found that most patients prefer the stent because the recovery is so much faster than open heart surgery.