WHICH BYPASS? Each seems to have its problems

As an avid reader of our E-news broadcasts, you probably will never need heart bypass surgery. But let’s suppose that you’ve left the straight and narrow. Perhaps you’ve missed a few issues, or you’ve started reading one of those patient-group websites. So there you are in front of your heart specialist and you hear the fateful words: ‘Off-pump or on-pump?’

These aren’t the various ways your favourite beer can be served, but the options you have for bypass surgery. ‘On-pump’ involves stopping the heart for several hours while veins are grafted to a part of the artery that’s not blocked. But the newer, and supposedly safer, technique is known as ‘off-pump’ or ‘beating-heart bypass surgery’ – which is what it says on the label. The heart keeps beating, but is stabilised by special equipment, while the graft is performed.

‘Off-pump’ was a response to the large numbers of strokes, heart attacks and deaths that accompanied the ‘on-pump’ procedure. A new study has discovered that ‘off-pump’ is indeed less traumatic. But (and you know there’s always a ‘but’) the grafts don’t seem to last as long as those performed with ‘on-pump’.

(Source: New England Journal of Medicine, 2004; 350: 21-8).

* To get all the facts about maintaining a healthy heart, and the treatment options available if you do need help, you should read the WDDTY Your Healthy Heart book. Click on this link to order your copy: http://www.wddty.co.uk/shop/details.asp?product=110

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Written by What Doctors Don't Tell You

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