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Gene Variant May Raise Death Risk After Heart Bypass

FRIDAY, Sept. 16 (HealthDay News) -- People who carry a certain genetic variant involved in blood clotting and inflammation have a lower five-year survival rate after coronary artery bypass surgery, researchers report.

The findings should be used to better treat and ensure the survival of these surgical patients over the long-term, said the research team from Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C.

"There are possibilities that we could apply this information someday to a patient's prognosis, and for careful monitoring or increased surveillance if a person has a 2.5 times higher risk of dying, instead of letting them go their way after a CABG [coronary artery bypass graft] surgery," study senior author Mihai Podgoreanu, an assistant professor of anesthesiology, said in a Duke news release.

In conducting the study, published in the Sept. 12 issue of Circulation, the researchers found variants in the thrombomodulin gene were associated with greater risk of death in the five years following CABG surgery in a group of roughly 1,000 patients.

The researchers also took other known risk factors into consideration and confirmed their findings by repeating the study with a separate group of about 1,000 more patients.

"In any biomarker association study, current wisdom is that there are a lot of false positive findings, so we used specimens from a different, independent cohort of patients to increase our confidence that the initial results were not spurious," said Podgoreanu.

The authors concluded that although more research is needed to determine exactly how the findings will benefit the long-term survival of individual heart surgery patients, knowing whether or not a patient has this gene variant will help doctors better assess patient risks.

More information

The U.S. National Institutes of Health provides more information on coronary bypass surgery.

-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas

SOURCE: Duke Medicine, news release, Sept. 13, 2011

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