Angioplasty Beats Bypass for High-Risk Male Patients

It's safer and more cost-effective, study finds

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MONDAY, Sept. 11, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Angioplasty may be a safe and more cost-effective option for men at high risk of death from heart bypass surgery, researchers report.

Some men are at high risk for death during bypass surgery due to their age, prior open-heart surgery, recent heart attack, or decreased heart function, note researchers reporting in the Sept. 12 issue of Circulation.

This new study compared three- and five-year health outcomes and economic costs among 445 high-risk male heart patients, average age 67. Of those, 218 had angioplasty and 227 had coronary artery bypass grafting surgery.

The procedures were done between 1995 and 2000.

At the five-year mark, the average cost was 19 percent lower ($18,732 less) for angioplasty patients, and the cost difference was achieved without adversely affecting survival. Bypass offered no significant advantages over angioplasty in terms of quality of life, which further supports the use of angioplasty for high-risk male patients, the researchers said.

Previous research found that angioplasty was cheaper than bypass initially, but the difference in cost effectiveness narrowed significantly after five years.

"Since the time those studies were done, angioplasty techniques have improved and patients are getting stents, which help prevent the arteries from closing up again," lead researcher Kevin Stroupe, a health economist at the Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital in Illinois, said in a prepared statement.

"Our study ... showed that angioplasty maintains a significant cost advantage with no adverse impact on survival rates, even after five years," he said.

More information

The Society for Vascular Surgery has more about angioplasty and stenting.

SOURCE: American Heart Association, news release, Sept. 11, 2006

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