April 12, 2011

Heart failure occurs when there is poor heart pump function. It is estimated that 5.8 Americans live with heart failure. The medical expenses related to heart failure were nearly $40 billion in the United States in 2010. Symptoms of heart failure include shortness of breath, fatigue, and swelling of the ankles, feet, legs, and abdomen. There is no cure for heart failure but lifestyle changes, medications, and certain devices can reduce the symptoms and improve survival from the condition.

Many physicians had not considered coronary artery bypass surgery as a specific therapy for heart failure unless the patients had advanced heart failure with symptoms such as chest pain that are directly attributable to reduced blood flow to the heart. Coronary artery bypass surgery involves harvesting  healthy arteries or veins from other locations in a patient’s body and then attaching one or more of  them to one or more of the coronary arteries in order to bypass obstructions in the coronary arteries so that blood supply to the heart muscle is improved. 

A new study funded by the National Institutes of Health found that coronary artery bypass surgery added to medical therapy for certain chronic heart failure patients over medical therapy alone reduced the combined rate of deaths and heart-related hospital stays by 15% although the total number of deaths between the two groups was not significantly different (36% death rate for patients receiving coronary artery bypass surgery plus medical therapy versus 41% death rate for patients who received medical therapy alone during the follow-up period (which averaged 56 months) – 28% death rate from heart-related causes for the bypass surgery plus medical therapy group versus 33% for the medical therapy alone group – 58% combined rate of death or heart-related hospital stays for the bypass surgery plus medical therapy group versus 68% combined rate of death or heart-related hospital stays for the medical therapy alone group).

While there is a short-term risk of dying from the bypass surgery, the study suggests that patients who have the surgery may be less likely over time to need future heart-related hospital stays. The study suggests that coronary artery bypass surgery might be an option for more coronary heart disease patients than previously thought.

If you have coronary heart disease and/or heart failure, you need to speak at length with your cardiologist or other medical specialitists regarding which treatment options are appropriate for you and to determine if and when the treatment regimen should be changed.

If you have questions whether the failure of your medical treatment was due to medical negligence, you should contact a medical malpractice attorney to discuss your concerns. Please use our website to find a medical malpractice lawyer in your area to help find answers to your medical malpractice questions, or call us toll free 800-295-3959.