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Platelets. 2000 May;11(3):133-6.

Platelet dysfunction detected at high shear in patients with heart valve disease.

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  • 1Walt Disney Memorial Cancer Institute at Florida Hospital, Orlando 32804, USA.


Whether patients with valvular heart disease have a defect of platelet function has been unclear. Despite evidence that these individuals have an abnormality detectable only under conditions of high shear stress, no methods have been widely available to adequately assess platelet function under such conditions. The Platelet Function Analyzer (PFA)-100 measures platelet function in a high shear environment and is well suited to the detection of platelet dysfunction in the clinical laboratory. The instrument records the time for platelets to occlude a membrane coated with collagen and either epinephrine (CEPI) or ADP (CADP). We studied the PFA-100 in 398 patients before open heart surgery; 308 for coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) and 90 for aortic or mitral valve replacement (VR). Patients were classified as normal (CEPI < or = 153 s); 'aspirin effect' (CEPI > 153 s but CADP < or = 109 s) or abnormal (CEPI > 153 s and CADP > 109 s). In the CABG group, 41.2% were classified as normal, 43.2% as 'aspirin effect' and 15.6% as abnormal. In contrast, in patients undergoing VR, these values were 6.7, 11.1 and 82.4%, respectively. Patients with valvular disease had significantly longer closure times for both CEPI and CADP tests (P < 0.001). In addition, the valvular disease group had a significantly higher proportion of patients with markedly prolonged (> 150 s) closure times in the CADP cartridge (43.3 vs. 3.6%, respectively). Only one (0.3%) patient in the CABG group had non-closure (> 300 s) in the CADP test compared to seven (7.8%) in the valvular disease group. Three of six patients in the latter group bled excessively during surgery. We conclude that abnormal CADP closure is much more frequent among patients with aortic or mitral valve disease compared to those with coronary artery disease. This may reflect pre-existing high-shear damage to platelets that renders them refractory to subsequent shear activation and aggregation in the PFA-100 system. Further studies are needed to more precisely define the platelet defect in these patients. Markedly prolonged CADP closure in patients with valvular disease may indicate an increased likelihood of intra-operative bleeding, although an appropriately designed prospective study is needed to adequately address this hypothesis.

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