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Heart Surgery markedly improves symptoms and affords normal longevity
August 3rd 2005

Surgery for thickening of heart increases life expectancy

Right Image shows HCM

A new study indicates that surgery for a thickened heart muscle not only gives relief of the symptoms, but will also lead to a normal life.  Thickening of the heart muscle affects more than 500,000 Americans and is a leading cause of sudden cardiac death in young people. 

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic evaluated records from 289 patients with severe “obstructions” who had undergone myectomy; an operation relieve symptoms of obstructive Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), or thickening of the heart muscle.  They compared the patients with 820 Patients with HCM, but did not have a blood flow obstruction. 

According to the study “Within 10 years, 39 percent of the obstructive HCM patients who did not have myectomy had died. Less than half as many (17 percent) had died among the patients who had surgery to correct the problem. The mortality rate for myectomy patients was statistically the same as that for the patients with non-obstructive HCM or for persons in the general population, matched for age and sex.”

Steve Ommen, M.D., the Mayo Clinic cardiologist who led the retrospective study concluded, "Patients with severe symptoms related to HCM can now be counseled that surgical myectomy, a time-proven operation with low complication rates, can be expected to markedly improve symptoms and afford normal longevity".

 

According to the Mayo Clinic, HCM involves a thickening of the heart muscle walls, particularly the wall (septum) that separates the two main pumping chambers. That thickening can affect blood flow into and out of the heart, which may lead to symptoms including shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, palpitations, or fainting after exertion. HCM can cause sudden death by sending the heart into a dangerous electrical rhythm pattern and is the most common cause of death during athletic competition.

Genetics accounts for half of the cases of HCM. The condition can be treated with beta-blockers.  In some cases an internal defibrillator to shock the heart back into normal rhythm is used.  It now appears that surgery may be the best treatment severe obstructions of blood flow when symptoms do not respond to medication.     

"The improvement in symptoms for myectomy patients has been well documented," explains of 1,337 consecutive patients evaluated from 1983 to 2001. "Until now, we didn't know whether feeling better translated into living longer. This new research suggests that for these younger patients, whose average age was 45 at the time of surgery, the operation gave them the same life expectancy as someone who had never had the disease."

The research is published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

If you have comments about this article please email me.


By Dan Wilson
Best Syndication Staff Writer

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Copyright 2005 Best Syndication                                            Last Updated Saturday, July 10, 2010 09:40 PM