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One in five suffer serious heart problems after surgery

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This means that of the 300 million people who undergo serious surgery every year around the world, 60 million suffer a heart attack and fatal heart failure as a direct result of the procedure, say researchers from the University of Basel in Switzerland. These do not include cardiac procedures, where the risk of heart problems is naturally higher.

Despite the extent of the problem, it’s still unrecognised. Around 75 percent of patients who die after surgery are never admitted to critical care, and some who suffer a heart attack after surgery don’t seem to suffer pains, usually because of the pain medication they’re on.

The researchers tracked the health of 2,265 patients, with an average of 73, for a year after surgery. Around 15 percent had at least one heart complication within the first 30 days after surgery, and this rose to 21 percent during the year.

Most of the complications happened in the first 30 days after surgery, but the threat remains high for the following five months. The patient’s levels of troponin, a protein that regulates the heart, should be measured before and after the procedure, the researchers recommend.

The riskiest procedures were thoracic (spinal) surgery, which led to 22 percent of heart problems and vascular (circulation) procedures, which were associated with 21 percent of cases.

The patient can also reduce his risk by quitting smoking, being physically active and eating healthily, said lead researcher Christian Puelacher.

(Source: Eur Heart J Acute Cardiovasc Care, 2020; doi: 10.1093/ehjacc/zuaa008)

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Article Topics: heart, medicine, Pain
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