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Heart surgery survival rates up

24th April 2007

More people are surviving heart surgery, a survey has revealed.

The death rate following coronary artery bypass surgery has fallen from 2.4 per cent to 1.8 per cent, according to the results of 26,000 heart bypasses which took place between 1997 and 2005.

The predicted death rate, however, has risen from three per cent to 3.5 per cent. This has been put down to doctors taking on more complicated cases and those among elderly patients.

The findings took account of any tendencies on the part of doctors to avoid difficult cases to affect league tables.

Ben Bridgewater, leader of the research, said: "If publication of surgical mortality data had driven surgeons to turn down significant numbers of high risk patients we would expect to see that reflected in the number of high risk cases coming to surgery.

"This study suggests that the effect may not have been as large as is feared."

Ellen Mason, cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: "It is great that cardiac surgery outcomes have continued to improve over the last few years.

"While working under more public scrutiny than ever before, surgeons and their highly skilled teams have reduced mortality rates in bypass surgery."