(HealthDay News) – Radiation-associated heart disease (RAHD) correlates with an increased risk of death in patients undergoing cardiothoracic surgery (CTS), according to a study published online April 8 in Circulation.

Willis Wu, MD, from the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, and colleagues conducted a retrospective, observational study involving 173 RAHD patients (75% women, 63 ±14 years) and 305 age-, gender-, and time/type of CTS-matched comparison patients (74% women, 63 ±4 years) undergoing CTS. Clinical and surgical parameters, preoperative Euro scores, and all-cause mortality were evaluated.

The researchers found that most RAHD patients had prior breast cancer (53%) and Hodgkin’s lymphoma (27%), with a mean of 18 ± 12 years from radiation. The RAHD and comparison groups had similar mean Euro scores (7.8 vs. 7.4; P=0.1). In both groups, about two-thirds of the patients had combination surgical procedures. In the RAHD group, proximal coronary artery disease was higher (45% vs. 38%; P=0.09), while redo CTS was significantly lower in the RAHD group (20% vs. 29%; P=0.02). The proportion of patients who died during a mean follow-up of 7.6 years was significantly higher in the RAHD than the comparison group (55% vs. 28%). In multivariate analysis, increased mortality correlated with RAHD (hazard ratio [HR], 2.47), increasing Euro score (HR, 1.22), and lack of beta-blockers (HR, 0.66).

“Upon undergoing cardiothoracic surgery, despite having good procedural success, presence of radiation heart disease is independently associated with significantly worse long-term survival, as opposed to a comparison group,” write the authors.

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