An international, clinical research trial has shown that patients with diabetes whose multi-vessel coronary artery disease is treated with bypass surgery live longer and are less likely to suffer severe complications like heart attacks than those who undergo angioplasty.
The findings are published online today in The New England Journal of Medicine (10.1056/NEJMoa1211585). The study - co-led by researchers at New York's Mount Sinai Hospital and Toronto's Peter Munk Cardiac Centre, University Health Network (UHN) - is known as the FREEDOM trial.
"We've shown that bypass surgery saves one extra life for every 20 patients with diabetes who are treated for multi-vessel coronary artery disease," says lead author, Dr. Michael Farkouh, Chair of the Peter Munk Centre of Excellence in Multinational Clinical Trials, Peter Munk Cardiac Centre, UHN.
Five years after treatment, patients who received coronary artery bypass grafts (CABG) had lower combined rates of strokes, heart attacks, and deaths (18.7 percent) than those who underwent angioplasty (26.6 percent). Strokes were slightly more common among the CABG group (5.2 percent) than in the angioplasty group (2.4 percent), however, more angioplasty patients died from any cause (16.3 percent) than CABG patients (10.9 percent).
"Based on these results, we believe that coronary artery bypass surgery should be standard therapy for the millions of patients worldwide with diabetes who have more than one diseased vessel," says Dr. Farkouh, who is the Chair of Cardiology Research and an associate professor of medicine at the University of Toronto.
Coronary artery disease is the buildup of plaque in the coronary arteries. It's the most common form of heart disease and can lead to chest pain, heart failure and heart attack. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, almost 2.4 million Canadians live with diabetes.