Blood Type Vs. Heart Surgery Risk

Type AB blood less likely have heart surgery issues

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Patients with a certain blood type may have a naturally lower risk of dying after heart surgery. Two added blood proteins mean that patients with AB blood are 20 percent are more likely to survive.

The lowered mortality risk appears to be explained by the presence of two clotting proteins including von Willebrand factor and Factor VIII.

"Know your blood type, your heart may appriciate it."

Dr. Ian J. Welsby from the Duke University Medical Center and his colleagues sought to determine whether a specific blood type put patients at higher risk of death or complications after coronary artery bypass graft surgery to improve blood flow to the heart.

Researchers studied more than 15,000 heart surgery patients treated at Duke Heart Institute between 1992 and 2006. They found that patients with type AB blood were significantly less likely to die after the surgery and also were at the lowest risk for bleeding. Only about 3 percent of the population have type AB blood.

Patients with type O blood have lower levels of the clotting proteins and could be at a greater risk for bleeding and blood transfusions after surgery, while patients with one group A or B and one O gene, such as AO or BO, would have a moderate level of the clotting proteins. About half of the population has type O blood.

The evidence also suggested that individuals with type AB blood may be more likely to develop blood clots, though it does not appear problematic for such patients.

Additional research is needed to determine the order of risk for other blood groups. Future studies could help doctors begin predicting the bleeding risk level of patients after heart surgery using a simple and inexpensive blood test. Researchers also hope to determine whether boosting von Willebrand factor in patients without type AB blood would result in better surgery outcomes.

The study was presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists, held from Oct. 15 to 19 in Chicago. The research has not been published and is still considered preliminary.

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Review Date: 
October 21, 2011
Last Updated:
October 22, 2011