After myocardial infarction there is an acute deterioration of the flow properties of blood. The present study was designed to test whether the abnormality persists. Blood and plasma viscosity, red cell aggregation and deformability, haematocrit, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, white cell count, cholesterol, and triglycerides were measured in 51 patients who had had a myocardial infarction 5.4 (mean) years before. Results in patients and controls were compared and matched pairs with identical cardiovascular risk factors were also selected. Blood viscosity and red cell aggregation were increased and red cell deformability was decreased in the 51 patients. The abnormalities were independent of the interval since infarction and persisted for years. The rheological abnormalities present after myocardial infarction are at least partly independent of the acute event and acute phase reactions. They contribute to the reduced perfusion of the microcirculation of the heart.
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