But perhaps the essential issue is hidden within yet more statistics that suggest that a patient is likely to need another procedure to bypass the original bypass. Cardiologists recognise that grafted vessels will have closed within 10 years in 40 per cent of patients while other arteries will have closed in the remaining 60 per cent. This means that every bypass patient will need further surgery within a decade to either repair work already done or allow fresh work on different vessels.
It’s not unusual for a patient to undergo a second or even third bypass operation. In fact, the chances of the necessity for a second operation increase by around 5 per cent every year.
While any cardiologist worth his wage packet will counsel the postoperative patient to change his lifestyle, improve his diet, start exercising and stop smoking, it’s a message that is not being heard in a culture where there’s always a quick-fix available.
But the quick-fix is not a safe one. The benefits of bypass surgery are unpredictable, and can bring on the very heart attack or stroke that it was supposed to prevent. It seems perverse that those who do nothing, or who control the problem with drugs or diet, can fare just as well, if not better, than those who have gone through the trauma of a procedure that involves cutting open the ribcage and stopping the heart for several hours.
As Dr Wayne says: 'If you must gamble, do so in Las Vegas, not on the operating table where you will bet everything you own on one roll of the dice.'