Quality of life after coronary artery bypass graft surgery versus percutaneous coronary intervention: what do the trials tell us?

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Purpose of review

With an ever-aging population, the treatment of multi-vessel coronary artery disease (CAD) has increasingly become focused not only on mortality, but on symptom relief and improving quality of life (QOL). The purpose of this review is to present a summary on the subject of QOL after percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) and coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG), highlighting the latest comparative trials in the field.

Recent findings

About 1 month after revascularization, patients recovering from either PCI or CABG report improvements in angina frequency. However, at 6 months and in the years that follow, angina relief is significantly better after CABG compared with PCI. Correspondingly, the use of antiangina medication is significantly higher following PCI, even in recent years with the use of drug-eluting stents. Regarding general health status, at the 1-month time point, PCI patients have recovered faster than those who have had surgery, reporting fewer physical limitations, less bodily pain, and greater QOL and treatment satisfaction. Nevertheless, these differences disappear by 6 months, and in the years thereafter, CABG patients report fewer physical limitations compared with those who have undergone PCI. About 5 years after revascularization, significant benefits remain favoring CABG in term of physical, emotional, and mental health.


Patients with multivessel coronary artery disease attain important QOL benefits following revascularization with either PCI or CABG. Percutaneous treatments lead to a more rapid recovery and improved short-term health status compared with CABG at 1 month. However, surgery results in greater angina relief and improved QOL compared with PCI 6 months after revascularization and beyond.

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