September 11, 2010

The Report That Lets You Shop Around For Bypass Surgery

Posted in Heart Disease in the News, Helpful Heart Links tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 6:01 pm by keepyourhearthealthy

http://fmp.cit.nih.gov/hi/ Title: Coronary art...

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The decision to undergo bypass is a major ordeal for many heart disease patients.

The thought of having your chest cut open and then possibly not waking up is frightening!  Luckily, the risk of death and complications are usually quite small with most surgeons performing bypass surgery.  However, you should check out your options for both surgeons and hospitals if you want the absolute best outcome.

A report published in Consumer Reports Health has listed out the ratings of over 200 cardiothoracic surgeon groups in the US.  The information was compiled by the Society of Thoracic Surgeons and all surgeons had to agree to have their information published.  With approximately 1100 groups giving information for the entire study, that means only 20% of them were motivated enough to allow their ratings to be published.

The ratings were given on a scale of one to three stars (one being the worst and three being the best).  The number of stars were based on 30-day survival, surgical technique, complications associated with the bypass and appropriate medications prescribed.

In case you are thinking that your regular subscription to Consumer Reports will let you see THIS particular report on their Consumer Reports Health website…not so!  I already tried it myself.  I logged in to consumerreports.org and they still advised me to get a subscription to the Health portion before viewing the actual results.  However, according to theheart.org, 50 of the programs received the highest rating and 5 received the lowest.   Given that publishing the results was voluntary, it makes you wonder why those 5 cardiothoracic surgery groups chose to publish their results?  They could have opted out like 900 other groups did!

In case you are shopping around for the ultimate bypass surgeon and are interested in viewing the report, here is the link to a sneak peek with the option to log in or subscribe:

Consumer Reports Health Bypass Surgery Ratings

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September 2, 2010

New Alternative to Coumadin and Warfarin?

Posted in Heart disease tips, New Heart Studies tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 11:58 pm by keepyourhearthealthy

photo by Michal Marcol

Patients with atrial fibrillation know all too well the problems with Coumadin and warfarin.

Atrial fibrillation is a very common arrhythmia in which the top chambers of the heart beat quickly and erratically.  Since the pumping of the atria is abnormal during atrial fibrillation, a clot can form in the heart.  If the clot travels up to the brain this leads to a stroke.  For this reason, people with atrial fibrillation are at a higher risk of stroke and may need to take a strong blood thinner called Coumadin (generic name warfarin).

Coumadin and warfarin dosages are variable and need frequent monitoring.  One person may only need to take 5mg per day while another person might need 7.5mg per day.  Fingerstick checks are done every few days to every month for checking the level (called INR).  People who cannot or will not take Coumadin need to take at least an aspirin a day to lower the risk of stroke.  Sounds like a lot of work right?

A simpler drug may be available soon!  A new study out of Ontario has reviewed a new medicine called apixaban in terms of replacing Coumadin and warfarin.  When compared with aspirin only, apixaban reduced the risk of stroke and other clotting problems by 54%!  The dose is standard for everyone and apparently there is no need for fingerstick checks.  Let’s pray that apixaban makes it through the next trial so we can truly have a great new alternative to Coumadin!