Cardiac Surgery Outcomes: A Case for Increased Screening and Treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnea

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Journal Title

The Annals of thoracic surgery

MeSH Headings

Adult; Cardiac Surgical Procedures (adverse effects); Coronary Artery Bypass (adverse effects); Humans; Postoperative Complications (etiology); Retrospective Studies; Risk Factors; Sleep Apnea, Obstructive (complications, diagnosis, surgery)


BACKGROUND: Because of the limited published information on complications that obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) patients experience during and after cardiac surgery, we investigated OSA as a risk factor for postoperative outcomes. METHODS: This project used the Northern New England Cardiovascular Disease Study Group's data collected between 2011 and 2017 based on The Society of Thoracic Surgeons Adult Cardiac Surgery Database Data Collections form. A retrospective analysis of 1555 patients with OSA and 10,450 patients without OSA across 5 medical centers undergoing isolated coronary artery bypass grafting, isolated valve surgery, and combined coronary artery bypass grafting valve surgery was conducted. We used 1:1 nearest-neighbor propensity score matching with no replacement to balance characteristics among patients with and without OSA. RESULTS: There was a statistically significant increased risk of postoperative pneumonia, increased length of total and postoperative stay, and time to initial extubation. Two outcomes trended toward significance: intra- and postoperative intraaortic balloon pump use. Outcomes that failed to show statistical significance were surgical site infection, atrial fibrillation, cerebrovascular accident, permanent pacemaker placement, and blood products given. A chart review conducted on a subset of the study cohort revealed that more than 40% of OSA patients did not receive continuous positive airway pressure or bilevel positive airway pressure therapy postoperatively during their hospitalization. CONCLUSIONS: Our study aligns with the literature in concluding that OSA has deleterious effects on postoperative outcomes of cardiac surgery patients. Further research to better stratify OSA patients by severity are still needed. Additionally heightened awareness of the need to screen, diagnose, and properly treat patients for OSA is needed.

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