Heart surgery has been touted as a potential way to improve cardiovascular health.
Now, a new study suggests that doing so may actually improve heart function.
The study, published online April 16 in the journal PLOS ONE, found that patients who underwent a cardiac surgery in the next two weeks were better able to maintain normal blood pressure, heart rate and blood flow.
The researchers say that the results suggest that the surgery is a good way to reduce cardiovascular risk and improve health outcomes for patients with high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
The research is based on a trial of patients who were randomly assigned to either undergo a heart surgery or receive an “acute” coronary intervention.
“This study confirms what has been found in other studies,” said study author Raghu Nair, M.D., a cardiologist at the University of Southern California.
“The heart is a complex organ, and heart surgery can help repair it.”
The heart, Nair said, is like a computer that can be broken down into small parts.
Each part can function independently, and this is what causes blood pressure to drop, for example.
“We wanted to see whether the heart surgery might help with the maintenance of function,” Nair told Medscape Medical News.
“If we can’t control it, how can we help?”
In the current study, the patients underwent heart surgery in August and September and received either an acute coronary intervention (ACI) or a maintenance-level surgery.
Both groups were treated for three months with the same medications that were used in the study.
The Acute Treatment and Maintenance Group (ATM), which included both the surgery and the ACI group, also received lifestyle counseling, including exercise and a physical therapist, as well as psychological support.
The ACI and maintenance groups received the same blood pressure medication and had the same physical therapist.
The investigators did not know if the patients in the ACII and maintenance group received the medications that patients in both groups received.
The surgery and ACII groups were randomized into one of four groups: the ACIII group received an ACI, the ACIV group received maintenance, the AcII group received surgery and maintenance and the AcIII group underwent surgery and surgery.
The surgical and maintenance patients received the drug cocktail that the study investigators used to control for the effects of other medications in the group.
In the ACIC, the surgical group had the drug combination that the researchers used to treat the ACVI patients.
The control group received a placebo, which had no effects on the outcome of the study, but the surgical and ACIV patients had a placebo.
The patients in surgery and aciclovir-treated groups also had the medication combination that was used to stop the bleeding in their heart.
“They were receiving the same drugs and they were getting the same treatment,” Nail said.
The authors note that the patients who received surgery had more severe heart failure and died within the next four weeks.
They also noted that the surgical patients were also more likely to have blood clots in the arteries and to have a blood pressure higher than normal.
However, the researchers said the group who received maintenance did not have a higher risk of death.
“In this study, we didn’t find any difference in survival time,” Nain said.
“It was just a reduction in heart failure.”
Nair is hopeful that the findings could have wider application.
“I think this study really shows that surgery is effective for lowering the risk of cardiovascular events and improving outcomes,” he said.
Nair also noted, however, that the group that received surgery also had an increased risk of heart failure.
The ACS and maintenance treatments were given to both surgical and aciivir- and maintenance-treated patients.
In addition, the surgeons in both surgical groups also received other treatments that may be beneficial.
“One thing we don’t know is if these treatments are related to each other or whether they are unrelated,” Naur said.
He added that the ACS and ACS-treated surgery patients were likely more likely than the maintenance-treatment patients to be treated with medications that may improve blood pressure or reduce blood clotting.
Naur added that he would like to see more studies with larger, randomized trials to determine whether the ACS- and ACS treatment groups were also healthier than the control group.
“My hope is that the more patients get surgery, the better they are going to be,” he added.
“That would be great news.”
The study was supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the National Institutes of Health (R01 HD025861), the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (DK-058133), and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (P30 DK-065337).