Ex-smokers may fare worse after heart surgery

A smoker is seen smirking as he puffs on a cigarette. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

January 2, 2013 1:06:07 PM PST
Scientists have discovered that recent ex-smokers contemplating heart bypass surgery may run into trouble due to lingering smoking related enzyme changes in the leg vein typically used for grafts.

They point out that problematically high enzyme levels found in leg veins do eventually drop back to normal once a smoker quits, but this doesn't happen immediately.

The team of researchers found that the reversal process can sometimes exceed a year.

The authors stress that patients need to stop smoking as soon as possible but that alternative sources for veins may be needed for some patients.