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Welcome to the Bypassing the Blues Website!

CABG surgery is one of the most common and costly medical procedures performed in the U.S., and it clearly benefits most patients. However, up to half of post-CABG patients report elevated levels of depressive symptoms following surgery, and studies indicate these individuals are more likely to experience poorer health-related quality of life, continued chest pains, and higher risk of re-hospitalization and death.

Bypassing the Blues is a National Heart Lung Blood Institute (NHLBI)-funded effectiveness trial conducted through the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Research on Health Care. It was designed to examine the impact of a telephone-delivered collaborative care strategy for treating depression after coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery on a broad variety of outcome measures that could influence uptake of our treatment strategy into routine clinical care.

As described in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the Bypassing the Blues treatment model can significantly speed recovery following CABG surgery. Moreover, economic analyses recently published in General Hospital Psychiatry reported that patients randomly assigned to the intervention had $2,068 lower median Medicare and other private insurance claims at 12-months following bypass surgery than patients randomized to their doctors' usual care even after including the $460 average cost to deliver the Bypassing the Blues intervention ($16,126 vs. $18,194). Our nurse-provided and telephone-delivered intervention was also highly cost-effective, producing more quality-adjusted life-years (QALY) while significantly lowering medical claims costs by $9,889 per additional QALY generated, a first for a collaborative care strategy to treat depression in any patient population.

Approximately 400,000 CABG surgeries are performed annually in the U.S., and studies indicate approximately one in five patients who undergo the procedure experience clinical depression. Extending this $2,068 savings to all depressed post-CABG patients has the potential to save over $165 million in medical claims in the first year following surgery reported the study investigators.

This website provides information about the Bypassing the Blues Trial and other resources health professionals can use to create their own post-CABG depression screening and treatment program. Visit us again for more information and to find out the latest research and news in the field.