Why Drugs After Heart Surgery Are Key to Recovery

Medically Reviewed

Diligently taking your prescribed medications after a procedure to restore blood flow to the heart can dramatically improve your long-term prognosis—making it more than twice as likely that you’ll survive without a major adverse cardiac event than patients who don’t adhere to their meds.

That’s the conclusion drawn by researchers in a new study that followed 973 heart bypass patients and 2,255 angioplasty and stent patients for five to seven years after their procedures. Nonadherence to prescribed meds had more of a detrimental impact on angioplasty patients than on heart bypass patients.

The researchers suggest that drugs like statins, blood thinners, and beta-blockers help keep arteries clear after an angioplasty, which unblocks arteries with a stent. A heart bypass, which redirects blood flow around the clogged artery, relies less on the drugs.

More research is needed to see whether this difference might influence the type of revascularization procedure a patient should undergo if he or she is less likely to comply with drug therapy. But you’ll still have a superior outcome if you follow your drug regimen no matter what the procedure.

Source: Circulation, October 2016