Medicine: New Freeways for the Heart

As many as 70,000 coronary bypass operations are now being performed in the U.S. each year at total costs ranging from $8,500 to $25,000 apiece. Some doctors criticize this boom; the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute has released results of a four-year study of 288 heart patients, suggesting that medicinal treatment may often be as effective as surgery. But there is no doubt that the operations can reduce angina—the severe chest pains suffered by some heart patients with clogged arteries. In addition, doctors are reporting new evidence that the operations prolong and...

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