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Surgery best when heart drugs fail

January 02, 2006|From Times wire reports

When clot-busting drugs fail to stop a heart attack, surgery to reopen a clogged artery is the most effective way to treat a patient, cutting the risk of death in half, a new study shows.

The study, published in the Dec. 29 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, could revolutionize the way smaller U.S. hospitals treat heart attack patients, forcing them to set up arrangements with larger hospitals capable of performing the surgery, known as angioplasty.

The data, funded by the British Heart Foundation and conducted at 35 British medical centers, also found that angioplasty, where a tube is threaded into the heart so that a balloon can reopen the clogged area, reduces by half the risk of a stroke, heart failure, or later heart attack.

Angioplasty is helpful even when factoring in the extra time it may take to move a patient to another hospital, the study shows.

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