The European Heart Journal published this study of open heart bypass patients looking at the question: "What is the average life expectancy after coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery , and are more surgeries needed afterwards?" Here's what they found:
The average life expectancy after CABG depends on a variety of factors including the patient's age, underlying medical problems, how well the heart is functioning and how well the surgery was performed. This study provided the longest and most complete follow-up of post-CABG patients, following over 1,000 patients for 30 years.
Researchers found that, on average, a patient's life expectancy after a first CABG was 17.6 years. Survival was different depending on how many bypass grafts you received. Patients with one, two or three grafts had respective life expectancies of 21.4, 18.8 and 15.4 years.
In general, bypass surgery will correct a patient's problem for about 10 to 15 years. After that time, heart problems, such as chest pain, may recur and repeat surgeries may be needed. The study also found that a majority (94%) of patients required subsequent repeat surgeries. http://eurheartj.oxfordjournals.org/content/30/4/453.abstract
Average age at first surgery was 53. I do have a couple concerns about the results:
#1: 88% of the subjects were male (surprise! surprise!) so these results may or may not be equal for women.
#2: 30 years ago when these subjects were first selected post-op, was bypass surgery technology as good as it is in more recent years as new developments, devices and skills have been improved?
But overall, these stats - although distressing for some - do make sense to me. The more I read and learn from other survivors, the more I'm convinced that although our docs can patch us up temporarily with stents, bypass grafts, pacemakers, defibrillators, new valves and other miracles of modern technology, they cannot cure what caused our cardiac event in the first place. That damage is estimated to be 20-30 years in the making, so a cardiac procedure can save our lives but is a band-aid solution at best.
Edited June 7, 2010 at 10:12 am