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Women and Beating Heart Bypass Surgery

Beating heart surgery may be a better option for many women. When it comes to women and heart disease, there are some troubling findings of recent years. We know now that:

  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death among women
  • It kills more women than cancer, accidents and diabetes combined
  • Heart disease is the cause of death for one out of every three women, and it kills more women than men
  • When women have heart disease, they are more likely to die from the disease than men are

Heart Disease Does Not Only Affect Men

Certainly heart disease is not solely a man's disease, nor should it be treated as one in terms of research, prevention, detection, or treatment.

While American women and their physicians have unquestionably received a wake-up call when it comes to heart disease, new technology and women-centered research now show that surgical outcomes for women can be dramatically improved when surgeons and their female patients choose the "beating heart" option for bypass surgery.

Beating Heart and Bypass Surgery

As its name implies, "beating heart bypass surgery" means that the patient's heart continues to pump blood through her body during the operation. In traditional or "open-heart surgery," the patient's heart is actually stopped during the procedure, and surgeons use a "heart-lung machine " to keep the blood circulating through the body.

Although open heart surgery has saved thousands of lives and represents the best option for many patients so far, statistically, women don't fare as well as men during or following the procedure. In fact, with traditional open-heart surgery, women are two to three times more likely than men to die during the operation.

Benefits of Beating Heart Bypass Surgery For Women

Studies show bypass surgery for women indicate Beating Heart Bypass surgery may be more beneficial:

  • Mortality rate is 33% lower in off-pump patients
  • Off-pump patients received 32% fewer post-operative transfusions and had significantly fewer neurological complications
  • Off-pump patients had shorter lengths of stay and higher discharges directly to home
  • Respiratory, renal, post-operative infection, septicemia, pneumonia and shock/hemorrhage complication rates are lower for off-pump patients

The good news is that, in cases where heart surgery is the best treatment option for women with heart disease, the "beating heart" method offers well-documented advantages over traditional surgery. Specifically, when women's hearts continue to beat during surgery, they are more likely to survive, less likely to have complications from bleeding, and less likely to have neurological or respiratory complications.