Health Team

Study: Drug for Bypass Patients Could Be Deadly

Posted February 6, 2007

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— A new study shows a drug often used to control bleeding in heart bypass patients might actually lead to thousands of unnecessary deaths.

Hundreds of thousands of bypass surgeries are performed every year in the U.S., but cardiologists never call the procedure routine because too many things can go wrong. Bleeding is one of the risks associated with the surgery, so doctors use drugs like aprotinin to lessen bleeding.

But a 10-year, worldwide study of almost 4,000 coronary artery bypass graft patients shows aprotinin may lead to fatal blood clots in bypass patients. The findings of the study are published in the latest issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"The major findings of the study is that aprotinin, one of three medications that we tested, was unsafe, that it was associated with increased death over five years following surgery," said Dr. Dennis Mangano with the Ischemia Research and Education Foundation.

Aprotinin was linked to a 5 percent higher death rate during that five-year period.

Mangano said bypass patients should find out if they received aprotinin. If they did, their doctors need to watch them closely for blood clots, which can lead to strokes and other health problems, he said.

If every patient who received aprotinin last year had been given another drug instead after bypass surgery, "we would have saved about 2,000 deaths per year over the next five years, or a total of 10,000 deaths," Mangano said.

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  • Sherlockholmes Feb 11, 2007

    The Problem That I See , Is That Most Drugs And Their Side Effects Seem To Much More Dangerous Than The Condition They Have Been Designed To Treat.

  • Sherlockholmes Feb 11, 2007

    tuc8903 -at- yahoo -dot- com
    Something Else To Worry About?
    If You Did Not Have Your Bypass
    You Probably Wouldn't Be Able To Worry Today ? Ya Think?

  • builder276 Feb 11, 2007

    strange, the company did all the required test and doctored the results in order to get it on the market, wonder why it kills people. The FDA accepted the doctored up test results, everything should be fine. It must be the patients fault for dying

  • notadumbredneck Feb 9, 2007

    ajstarrn - I believe you're referring to DVT, or Deep Vein Thrombosis; clots which develop in the leg veins and then travel to the heart and lungs. Many times, fatal clots originate in other areas of the body and cannot be easily detected until they lodge in the lungs and brain and cause symptoms. It is also possible for new clots to form in the bypass grafts, thereby blocking them and cutting off blood supply to the heart muscle. It may be that these are the types of clots that the study found.

  • ajstarrrn Feb 7, 2007

    There are ways that patients can be monitored for blood clots; doctors can educate their patients for things to report like pain with redness and swelling in the legs, which could indicate a clot. There are also lab tests, etc...thank you WRAL for your great coverage

  • Squeek Feb 7, 2007

    So you're saying that WRAL shouldn't report important things like this just so you won't worry? Rather self-centered, don't you think?

  • Huey Feb 7, 2007

    Thanks WRAL for something else to worry about.
    I don't think the danger is that great and what
    can a doctor do to "watch someone closely for blood
    clots"? But this does cause me to worry a tad more
    because I did have bypass surgury 7 years ago.
    Worry is not good for the heart you know. Thank
    goodness I have had no problems at all since the surgury - knock on wood.