MIND OVER MUSCLE About 30% of bypass patients suffer from what doctors call "pump head," a mental fog that physicians have long blamed on the heart-lung machine. The device pumps blood through the body when surgeons stop the heart in order to operate on it. Lately doctors have tried to avoid the problem by performing more bypasses on the heart while it is still beating. When researchers compared such "off pump" patients to those who have been on the heart-lung machine, however, they found no difference in memory, attention and motor skills one year after surgery.
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Sources: Am. Coll. of Cardiology (1); J.A.M.A. (2)