Women's Heart Advisor July 2008 Issue

Bypass Surgery a Riskier Operation for Women

Study suggests anemia and blood transfusions may be the cause, but some surgeons disagree.

Coronary artery disease is no longer considered a man’s disease. In fact, more women than men die from heart attacks every year. Coronary artery bypass surgery (often called coronary artery bypass grafting, or CABG) is one method of preventing heart attacks in people with severe coronary artery disease. Operative mortality rates for CABG have fallen steadily over the past 20 years, and the procedure is relatively safe when performed by an experienced surgeon. Nevertheless, a woman is at far greater risk of dying from CABG than a man—a fact that may be attributable to anemia and blood transfusions, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) in January. Some cardiologists are not sold on this conclusion, however.

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