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The Journal of Cardiovascular Surgery 2005 December;46(6):583-8


language: English

Postoperative atrial fibrillation independently predicts prolongation of hospital stay after cardiac surgery

Auer J. 1, Weber T. 1, Berent R. 1, Ng C. K. 2, Lamm G. 1, Eber B. 1

1 Department of Cardiology General Hospital Wels, Wels, Austria 2 Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery General Hospital Wels, Werls, Austria


Aim. Postoperative atrial fibrillation (AF) occurs in up to 50% of cardiac surgery patients and represents the most common postoperative arrhythmic complication. A reduction of the length of hospital stay is a desirable goal in preventive strategies of postoperative AF. The aim of the present investigation was to determine whether prolonged postoperative hospital stay associated with AF after cardiac surgery surgery is attributable to the arrhythmia itself or to baseline characteristics of patients who develop AF.
Methods. Patients undergoing elective cardiac surgery in the absence of heart failure and significant left ventricular dysfunction (n=253; average age 65±11 years) were recruited to the present prospective study. Midline sternotomy procedurs with standard surgical techniques for normothermic cardiopulmonary bypass in coronary artery bypass grafting and valvular surgery were used.
Results. A total of 99 patients (39.1%) of the study population developed AF during the postoperative period. AF patients were older and more likely to have surgery for valvular heart disease and less likely to have antiarrhythmic drugs including beta-adrenergic blockers than patients without AF, but both patients with and without AF had similar body mass index and duration of surgery. Postoperative hospital stays were longer in patients with AF compared to those without AF (14.9±5.7 vs 10.6±3.6, respectively; P=0.001). Multivariate analysis, adjusted for age and postoperative complications, demonstrated that postoperative hospital stay was 14.2±5.3 days in patients with AF and 10.8±3.8 days in patients without AF (P<0.01). Treatment with oral antiarrhythmic drugs that reduce AF is associated with a reduction of postoperative hospital stay.
Conclusion. Despite basline characteristics differed between patients with and without postoperative AF, most of the prolongation of hospital stay can be attributed to the rhythm disturbance itself.

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