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Age no barrier for heart bypass surgery

Medicine@Yale, 2008 - May June

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Over the last 40 years, coronary artery bypass graft (CABG, pronounced “cabbage”) surgery has become commonplace; the National Center for Health Statistics estimates that 469,000 bypass procedures were performed on 261,000 patients in 2005.

According to a Yale study published in the December issue of The American Journal of Cardiology, even individuals in their 90s with heart disease may benefit from CABG surgery.

A research team led by Judith H. Lichtman, Ph.D., M.P.H., associate professor of epidemiology at Yale School of Public Health, studied outcomes of the procedure in 4,224 Medicare patients in their 90s who underwent the surgery from 1993 through 1999. The group found that age did not significantly lessen the procedure’s success.

Lichtman and senior author Harlan M. Krumholz, the Harold H. Hines, Jr. Professor of Medicine, note that women, while more likely to be discharged to nursing homes after the surgery, had better post-surgical survival rates than men. They also caution that additional research is needed to fully assess the suitability of CABG surgery for this elderly population.