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Preliminary Study Finds Link Between Heart Surgery and Mental Decline

Image Source/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Researchers may have linked a certain gene with increased risk for mental decline after heart surgery.

Between 30 and 50 percent of heart surgery patients show a decrease in mental function after the surgery, HealthDay News says. It has not been previously determined whether deteriorating mental faculties were due to the surgery itself, anesthesia, or pre-existing neurological disease.

A preliminary study, presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists in San Francisco, looked at 233 elderly, white patients who had their mental functions analyzed before heart surgery as well as five years post-surgery.

Those patients who possessed the APOE4 gene were more likely than others to experience memory loss, attention problems and difficulty understanding written or spoken words after the surgery, the study says.

The APOE4 gene can be detected in a blood test, says HealthDay News.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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