Age, Lower Immunity Put Bypass Patients at Risk for Cognitive Impairment

Older patients with lowered immunity to certain common bacteria found in the gastrointestinal tract are more likely than younger patients to suffer cognitive decline after coronary artery bypass surgery, according to a new analysis by Duke University Medical Center researchers.
Within the gut resides a class of bacteria known as gram-negative bacteria. These bacteria can release endotoxins into the bloodstream as a result of action of the heart-lung machine — which circulates the blood throughout the body while surgeons operate on a stopped heart — triggering a cascade of immunological events including systemic inflammation.