Heart Health

Updated 14 August 2017

Many heart bypass patients skip crucial medication

A large number of heart bypass patients are not taking medications meant to maintain smooth blood flow in their repaired veins, a new study finds.

"It is important for patients to understand that bypass surgery is a second chance, not a cure for their disease," Dr Michael Savage, a professor of cardiology at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, said in a university news release.

Both medications needed

Research has shown that taking statins and aspirin helps keep vein grafts used in bypass surgery open over the long term, and the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association recommend taking both medications unless they are unsafe for a patient.

Read: Turmeric extract may protect heart after surgery

But among the more than 400 patients in the study, only 52 percent were taking the recommended combination of statins and aspirin. Sixty-seven percent were taking just a statin and 75 percent were using aspirin only.

Those who were not taking a statin had higher levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol, the researchers found.

"This [finding] suggests complacency, not only among patients, but also among health care providers regarding the need to continue appropriate prevention measures after successful heart surgery," said Savage, who is director of the Angioplasty Centre and Cardiac Catheterization Lab at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.

Read: Heart bypass patients may not need tight blood sugar control

Study first author Dr Kevin Curl added, "Our findings highlight the need for coordinated efforts in educating health care providers and patients to improve long-term medication usage in this high-risk population." Curl is with the division of cardiology at Thomas Jefferson.

The study was published recently in the American Journal of Cardiology.

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