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Seniors with diabetes and angina who undergo surgery to open up blocked arteries do just as well as patients without diabetes. These findings were based on a study of 301 patients (69 with diabetes) 75 and older with symptomatic coronary artery disease. During the 4 years of their study, the investigators examined the difference in outcome between the 2 groups.
Reporting in the American Journal of Cardiology (July 15, 2005), the researchers found that patients with diabetes had more hypertension, risk factors, and previous heart failure and heart attacks, compared with the control group. Both groups, however, had an overall survival rate of 61% without revascularization (surgery or angioplasty to restore blood flow to the heart muscle), compared with 79% with revascularization.
Senior investigator Mathias E. Pfisterer, MD, said, "Elderly patients and their physicians may choose either an invasive strategy? or a medical strategy with a similar long-term outcome." He noted that both options have pros and cons. Heart surgery provides "early symptom relief and improvement in well-being" but is costly. On the flip side, medical management entails "more drugs and a greater than 50% chance of the need for late revascularization."