The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) is strongly committed to supporting research aimed at preventing and treating heart, lung, and blood diseases and conditions and sleep disorders.
NHLBI-supported research has led to many advances in medical knowledge and care. For example, this research has evaluated various treatments for heart problems, including heart surgery.
The NHLBI continues to support research on heart surgery. For example, the NHLBI is involved in studies that:
- Determine which treatments are most effective in patients who have diabetes and blockages in more than one coronary artery
- Determine which treatments—including medical therapy alone or with coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) or surgery to restore the heart to its normal size and shape—will help patients who have heart failure and coronary heart disease live longer
- Explore whether a valve procedure should be done at the same time as CABG in some patients who have heart valve defects
- Examine whether using off-pump CABG, as opposed to traditional CAGB, might reduce neurological side effects in patients
- Study a new ventricular assist device (VAD) for heart failure patients who don't qualify for a heart transplant or a permanent VAD
- Examine whether it's better for people who have severe mitral valve leakage to have valve repair or valve replacement surgery
Much of this research depends on the willingness of volunteers to take part in clinical trials. Clinical trials test new ways to prevent, diagnose, or treat various diseases and conditions.
For example, new treatments for a disease or condition (such as medicines, medical devices, surgeries, or procedures) are tested in volunteers who have the illness. Testing shows whether a treatment is safe and effective in humans before it is made available for widespread use.
By taking part in a clinical trial, you can gain access to new treatments before they're widely available. You also will have the support of a team of health care providers, who will likely monitor your health closely. Even if you don't directly benefit from the results of a clinical trial, the information gathered can help others and add to scientific knowledge.
If you volunteer for a clinical trial, the research will be explained to you in detail. You'll learn about treatments and tests you may receive, and the benefits and risks they may pose. You'll also be given a chance to ask questions about the research. This process is called informed consent.
If you agree to take part in the trial, you'll be asked to sign an informed consent form. This form is not a contract. You have the right to withdraw from a study at any time, for any reason. Also, you have the right to learn about new risks or findings that emerge during the trial.
For more information about clinical trials related to heart surgery, talk with your doctor. You also can visit the following Web sites to learn more about clinical research and to search for clinical trials:
For more information about clinical trials for children, visit the NHLBI's Children and Clinical Studies Web page.