Bypass Surgery risk study - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Bypass Surgery risk study

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A popular method for harvesting veins to use in heart bypass surgery appears to increase the risk the patient will die or suffer another heart attack within the next three years.  That's according to a new study from Duke University.

The method in question uses a tiny scope to pull a healthy vein out of a small incision of the leg. The vein is then used to create a blood vessel bypass around a blocked artery in the heart.

Older methods required a much larger leg incision, which was more painful and more likely to lead to infection.

There are about 450,000 bypass operations done each year in the U.S. and 70% use the new method, which is obviously less invasive.

However, the new Duke study shows people who have the smaller incisions were much more likely to die, have a heart attack or need another heart procedure in the next three years.

Researchers think it's because the vein gets damaged during the harvesting process.  While more research is needed to confirm the results, doctors say this should be a warning to surgeons to take better care of the vein when they pull it out of the leg.

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