NEW ORLEANS — Two new studies could change care for hundreds of thousands of heart patients each year. One finds that bypass surgery has been overrated for many people with very weak hearts from clogged arteries and previous heart attacks. The other challenges the way artery-opening procedures have been done for decades.
One study focused on use of an arm instead of a leg in balloon angioplasty to clear heart arteries. Complications were fewer with the arm method and at hospitals that did this more often, deaths, heart attacks and other big problems were lower, too.
The arm method is common in India, Israel, Europe and Canada, but less than 5 percent of U.S. cases are done this way.
In the second study, on bypass surgery, researchers found that the operation did not improve survival for heart failure patients who already were taking medicine to control risks like high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
Clogged arteries cause about two-thirds of the 6 million cases of heart failure in the United States. The heart isn't getting enough blood and enlarges as it grows weaker from working too hard. Doctors often advise bypass to improve blood flow, but the new study calls that into question.
The studies were presented Monday at the American College of Cardiology conference in New Orleans.