Aspirin and bypass surgery

To bypass, or not to bypass, that was the question in an e-Alert I sent you last week (“Passing on the Bypass” 1/23/03), about a study in which heart patients that refused invasive surgery procedures (such as balloon angioplasty or bypass operations), had a 210% higher survival rate than those who chose surgery.

For patients who chose surgery, however, there is something they can do to protect themselves. According to a study of more than 5,000 coronary bypass patients, reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, the use of aspirin immediately after bypass surgery was associated with a 48 percent reduction in ischemic complications and a 50 percent reduction in the incidence of stroke.

The current rule of thumb is to avoid aspirin for the first 24 hours after bypass surgery because aspirin increases the risk of bleeding. In an editorial accompanying the study, Dr. Eric J. Topol of the Cleveland Clinic Foundation called the findings “powerful.” Based on the study, Dr. Topol believes aspirin should be given within the first six hours after surgery.

So if a bypass operation is absolutely the only way to address your cardiovascular problems, before your surgery, make sure your doctor is aware of this important study and how aspirin could increase your chances of survival in this case.

To Your Good Health,

Jenny Thompson
Health Sciences Institute