Health Day - ONLINE EDITION

Heart Surgery Riskier for Blacks With Peripheral Artery Disease, Study Finds

Closer monitoring needed following bypass operation, researchers say

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MONDAY, July 1 (HealthDay News) -- Black patients with peripheral artery disease have an increased risk of death following heart bypass surgery compared to white patients, and therefore require closer follow-up, according to a new study.

In peripheral artery disease, plaque accumulates in arteries that carry blood to the head, organs and limbs. One in 20 Americans over age 50 has peripheral artery disease, according to the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Research has shown that peripheral artery disease is more common among blacks.

Researchers analyzed the medical records of more than 13,000 patients who underwent coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery at the East Carolina Heart Institute in Greenville, N.C., between 1992 and 2011. About 11 percent of the patients had peripheral artery disease at the time they had the open-heart surgery to repair blockages in the arteries.

Median survival was nine years for patients with peripheral artery disease and 15 years for patients without peripheral artery disease. Median survival was nine and a half years for white patients with peripheral artery disease and eight years for black patients with peripheral artery disease, according to the study, which was published in the July issue of the journal Annals of Thoracic Surgery.

"Our results highlight that the quality and quantity of health care should be extended to all groups for improved overall health and maximization of long-term survival after CABG surgery," study lead author Jimmy Efird, of East Carolina University, said in a journal news release.

"We recommend that cardiothoracic surgeons and cardiologists continue to closely monitor black patients with [peripheral artery disease] after CABG surgery with an understanding that they have an increased long-term risk of death compared with white patients," he added.

Study senior author Dr. Alan Kypson said that by critically examining long-term survival rates in different populations it should be possible "to narrow the racial disparity gap that we know exists in medicine."

More information

The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more about coronary artery bypass graft surgery.

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