This analysis attempts to utilize natural history controls to answer the question as to whether coronary surgery prolongs life in comparison to medical management. Selected natural history studies are compared and contrasted in an effort to obtain an average survival curve for patients with coronary artery disease comparable to those presently being operated. The Duke University Medical Center series of concurrent operated and non-operated patients is reviewed to demonstrate the difference of prognosis of patients with coronary artery disease and the complexities involved in answering the question. It is concluded that, on average, coronary surgery does not prolong life in comparison to medical management over the span of 2-5 years. There may be certain higher risk patients whose lives may be prolonged by aortocoronary bypass surgery but more patients and more prolonged follow-up are needed fully to answer the question.
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