Irregular heartbeat after heart surgery may increase stroke and death risks

Credit: Jacob Dwyer, Justine Ross/Michigan Medicine

After undergoing heart surgery, many patients experience an irregular heartbeat known as atrial fibrillation, or Afib.

This can be caused by the stress of the procedure, which involves temporarily stopping the heart for surgery. In the past, doctors thought Afib after heart surgery was not a major concern.

However, a recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan Health Frankel Cardiovascular Center has uncovered new findings about the risks associated with postoperative atrial fibrillation.

This condition can increase the chances of strokes, lead to permanent Afib, and even affect long-term survival following heart valve surgery. The study’s results have raised concerns about the impact of Afib on patients’ health.

The Study’s Findings: Postoperative Afib’s Impact on Health

Increased Risk of Strokes: The research team analyzed data from over 900 patients who had mitral valve surgery between 2011 and 2022. These patients did not have a history of irregular heart rhythms.

Shockingly, 39% of these patients developed postoperative atrial fibrillation after their surgery. Additionally, nearly one-quarter of those individuals experienced new or recurring Afib within 30 days after surgery.

What’s more alarming is that approximately 5% of patients who developed postoperative Afib suffered from neurologic events, such as strokes.

It is well-known that permanent Afib significantly raises the risk of stroke. This finding underscores the importance of addressing Afib after heart valve surgery to prevent these serious complications.

Long-Term Survival Impact

Furthermore, the study revealed that atrial fibrillation occurring after heart valve surgery independently increased the risk of worse long-term survival for patients who underwent mitral valve surgery.

This means that Afib not only poses immediate health risks but can also have lasting effects on patients’ overall well-being.

These results emphasize the need for further research to better understand the causes of postoperative Afib and develop effective prevention strategies.

The study also highlights the importance of creating guidelines for managing this condition to improve patient outcomes.

Conclusion: A Call for More Research and Guidelines

The study conducted at the University of Michigan Health Frankel Cardiovascular Center has shed light on the potential risks associated with postoperative atrial fibrillation.

While this condition was previously considered benign, it is now clear that it can lead to strokes, permanent Afib, and reduced long-term survival for patients who have undergone heart valve surgery.

This discovery emphasizes the urgent need for more research into the causes of postoperative Afib and the development of guidelines to manage and prevent this condition.

Addressing Afib after heart surgery is crucial to ensure the well-being and long-term health of patients.

If you care about heart health, please read studies about Blood thinners may not prevent stroke in people with heartbeat problems and findings of This diabetes drug may protect heart health in older veterans.

For more information about heart health, please see recent studies about A heart-healthy diet guide for seniors and results showing that Vegan diet may reverse heart disease naturally.

The research findings can be found in the Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery.

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