(Ivanhoe Newswire) – Most people come through heart surgery just
fine, but some end up going into shock or experiencing kidney complications.
Now researchers from Germany and Australia help explain why. Their study
links these complications to a variation in a gene involved in the
metabolism of norepinephrine, the key drug used to treat shock following
Specifically, people with the LL variant of the COMT gene are less
responsive to the effects of the drug. These individuals are also more
likely to experience shock and kidney failure following heart surgery, and
to require longer hospital stays as a result.
The investigators speculate the gene variant may be more pronounced in women
because protective estrogen metabolities are often inactivated by
norepinephrine, but they emphasize more study is needed to confirm this
theory. However, they do believe the current findings on the COMT gene
variation could help doctors determine post-surgery care for heart patients,
if they are validated by larger studies.
The study was conducted among 260 people who underwent heart bypass surgery.
SOURCE: Journal of the American Society Nephrology, published online
April 30, 2009