HEALTH: Developing A-Fib after certain surgeries

Updated: Wednesday, August 13 2014, 08:16 PM CDT
HEALTH:  Developing A-Fib after certain surgeries story image
Atrial Fibrillation or A-Fib is a common type of abnormal heart rhythm.
Having chronic A-Fib increases the risk of stroke.
A-Fib can develop after undergoing different types of surgery, including heart surgery.

"In this case the patient is in Atrial Fibrillation or A-Fib"
The smaller waves are irregular and seem to come and go. A patient can develop this abnormal heart rhythm during or after surgery.

"A-Fib that occurred after surgery was thought to be a temporary condition and there was not a lot of emphasis placed on careful long-term monitoring and follow up of patients who developed A-Fib after surgery."

Dr. Hooman Kamel from Weill Cornell Medical College and  co-authors examined data from more than 1.7 million inpatient surgeries, performed across the state of California over a four year period.

"About one and a half percent of these patients during or after their surgery developed A-Fib that seemed to be a new diagnosis."

Patients who underwent cardiac surgery had a higher risk of developing A-Fib than those who had other types of surgery.  Both groups of patients were followed for up to five years after surgery to assess their stroke risk.

"Among patients who had cardiac surgery having A-Fib afterwards did increase your risk of stroke in the long-term but not by a tremendous amount. It was about 30 percent higher than the patients who didn't develop A-Fib."

The study appears in Jama, Journal of the American Medical Association.
"Among the patients who had non-cardiac surgery and who did develop A-Fib their risk of stroke was much higher. It was about 100 percent higher, two old higher, than the people who did not have A-Fib."

Dr. Kamel says patients developing A-Fib after surgery should be followed very closely.
"These diagnoses of A-Fib after surgery need to be documented and clearly communicated to patients so that they can be followed appropriately over the long-term."

More research is needed to learn if the risk of stroke varies depending  on how long patients stay in A-Fib after surgery.

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HEALTH: Developing A-Fib after certain surgeries
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