Signs of Danger after Heart Surgery

Heart attack and death risk after angioplasty indicated by protein levels

(RxWiki News) While heart surgery is meant to save people's lives, it can sometimes lead to other problems or even death. Now, researchers have found a way to spot patients who are at risk of death after heart surgery.

Patients who face a higher risk of heart attack and death after heart surgery had higher levels of certain proteins. In other words, the proteins are a sign of bad outcomes for patients who have undergone angioplasty - a surgery that opens blocked arteries.

"Certain proteins are a sign of a higher risk of death in heart surgery patients."

The risk of death after angioplasty increases the older a patient is. But age does not give doctors a solid way to measure risk.

According to Dmitriy Feldman, M.D., F.S.C.A.I., from Weill Cornell Medical College, this study shows that levels of cardiac troponin T (cTnT) and cardiac troponin I (cTnI) - two types of proteins - give doctors a way to measure patients' risk of heart attack and death after angioplasty.

If doctors regularly check on these protein levels in angioplasty patients, they could improve the long-term results for these patients.

The Study

  • Researchers looked at past studies that examined how levels of cTnT and cTnI could predict outcomes after angioplasty
  • 22 studies from 1998 to 2009 were used, which included 22,353 patients
  • 26 percent of patients had higher levels of cTnT after angioplasty
  • 34 percent of patients had higher levels of cTnI after angioplasty
  • Researchers followed up with patients for anywhere between three to 67 months
  • Long-term risk of death after angioplasty was 5.8 percent for patients with elevated cTn levels, compared to 4.4 percent in those without elevated cTn levels
  • Risk of heart attack after angioplasty was 9.2 percent for patients with elevated cTn levels, compared to 5.3 percent for those without elevated cTn levels
  • Routine monitoring of cTn levels may help improve long-term outcomes for angioplasty patients
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Review Date: 
May 13, 2011