Obesity increases risk of infection after surgery

By: Dr. Victor Marchione | Heart Health | Tuesday, June 20, 2017 - 06:30 AM

obesity heart surgerySuffering from a heart attack is one of the greatest fears a person can have. To suddenly feel an intense pressure in your chest, causing strong pain that radiates down the left arm, invokes fear and anxiety of an untimely death. However, with prompt treatment, most of these symptoms can be mitigated, with bypass surgery being one of the most common methods for cutting the risk of a serious heart attack in the future.

The risks of surgery

While bypass surgery has helped save many lives, undergoing surgery does carry risks, such as excessive bleeding, stroke, and even repeat heart attack. According to a new study, obese heart bypass patients have a higher risk of infection within the 30 days after receiving the surgery.

The heart is concerned with the central pump of the circulatory system, pumping blood throughout the entire body. Like any organ, it needs its own supply of blood to maintain its function. There are several coronary blood vessels located in the heart that supply various regions, and if any of these blood vessels become blocked, it can lead to cardiac cell death and a heart attack.

Coronary bypass surgery aims to restore normal blood flow to the heart. This is often achieved by harvesting a vessel from your leg and grafting it on the heart, bypassing the obstruction—hence the name. Suffering a heart attack is not a prerequisite for this surgery, as having severe chest pain can be a criterion as well.

Looking closely at the numbers

The study in question analyzed data from more than 56,000 patients, looking at their BMI (body mass index) and various outcomes following bypass surgery grafting and coronary stent placement.

“Compared to patients with normal BMI, we found that patients with BMI greater than 30 were 1.9 times more likely to report infections after bypass surgery. A better understanding is needed in order to improve clinical outcomes for patients with obesity and heart disease,” said Tasuku Terada, a rehabilitation science postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Alberta.

It was also noted that in a previous study, more obese cardiac patients were getting stent placement rather than bypass surgery. Stent placement is a non-surgical procedure, which is probably why it is more commonly done in obese patients.

Looking for an explanation

Having patients stay in the hospital for longer durations after their cardiac procedure increases medical costs and depletes valuable resources. Getting to the bottom of why obese individuals are seeing this increase in hospital stays is a priority of the research group.

Why obese people have an increased risk for developing infection post-surgery is not known, but studies are underway to find an answer.


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Sources:

https://www.ualberta.ca/rehabilitation/news/2017/june/risk-of-infection-higher-for-patients-with-obesity-after-bypass-surgery

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