Platelets are tiny, cell-like components in the blood that aggregate to form clots. They're indispensable for closing wounds, but after injury caused by atherosclerosis in an artery, their automatic response can clog the vessel.
Scientists now report that people with platelets that tend to stick together are more likely to suffer complications from a common heart procedure than are those with less sticky platelets. In another study, researchers reveal that a genetic trait induces some people to make sticky platelets. The studies, which appear in the July 10 Circulation, could change how physicians treat people for heart disease.
In the first study, researchers tested how readily platelets aggregated in blood from 112 heart patients and compared the results with the patients' symptoms after a surgical procedure. The scientists first measured platelet reactions to adenosine diphosphate, a compound that abets platelet clumping. Then, they divided the group into th