Heart disease could alter the organ in such a way as to make it more adept at coping with the rigors associated with a particular type of surgery, it has been suggested.
Mice with symptoms of heart disease have been found by researchers to be more resistant to the damage caused by cardiac surgery.
A team from Bristol University, writing in Critical Care Medicine, hope this discovery could eventually lead to the development of drugs which will increase the chance of patients surviving heart surgery.
Commenting on the finding, study leader Professor Saadeh Suleiman said: "The heart is a very clever organ - we think that it has the ability to change its chemical pathways to respond to the damage caused by heart disease.
"We believe that we could target these pathways to help people who are undergoing heart surgery."
Cardiac surgery, which involves the replacement of segments of arteries which have narrowed as a result of heart disease, is undergone by around 30,000 patients a year.
The technique is particularly dangerous as the heart actually stops during the operation.
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