Harvard Heart Letter

Heart Beat: Safety of bypass drug questioned

Heart Beat

Safety of bypass drug questioned

Are you headed for bypass surgery sometime soon? If so, ask your surgeon if he or she plans to use a clotting drug called Trasylol (aprotinin). Two reports suggest that you'd be better off with a safer and cheaper alternative.

Just before bypass surgery, surgeons often administer drugs that increase blood's natural clotting ability. These drugs can minimize blood loss and prevent the need for a transfusion. The choices include two generic drugs, aminocaproic acid and tranexamic acid, and Trasylol. Since it was approved in 1993, Trasylol has been used in thousands of bypass operations.

An international team of independent researchers wanted to know just how safe these drugs are. So they looked at what happened to almost 4,400 men and women who had bypass surgery at 69 hospitals in North and South America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Some received Trasylol, some got a generic drug, and some didn't get any clotting drug at all.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »