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The patients who developed irregular heart rhythms during their stay in hospital for surgery were found to be at higher risk of suffering from stroke later on, a new US-based study has found.
The researchers behind the large study said that the heart fibrillation and flutters can be the result of short term stress that may crop up from the surgery but they could also be a warning sign of vulnerability to stroke.
Dr. Hooman Kamel, senior study author who is from Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, said, “We want patients and clinicians to be aware that having (atrial fibrillation) after surgery does have long term implications and has to be followed up on after surgery is over.”
For the study, the researchers involved over 1.7 million people who had undergone surgeries between 2007 and 2011 at several hospitals in California.
Out of all the participants, 24,711 suffered with atrial fibrillation during their hospital stays. The other 13,952
developed ischemic strokes few years after their discharge from the hospital.
Findings of the study:
• Among those patients who didn’t undergo heart related surgeries, it was found that about 1.5 percent of the patients diagnosed with atrial fibrillation while hospitalized suffered strokes in the year following their surgeries compared to about 0.4 percent of those patients who had not developed atrial fibrillation while in hospital.
• Among patients who undergone heart surgeries, it was found that about 1 percent of the patients who developed atrial fibrillation suffered strokes in the year following surgeries. That compared to about 0.8 percent of those patients who had not developed the irregular heart rhythm in the hospital.
• The researchers adjusted for factors- like age, sex and heart disease, which can influence the stroke risk. Following adjustment, the researchers found that those patients who developed atrial fibrillation while hospitalized for a non-heart-related surgery suffered a two-fold increased risk of developing strokes during the year following surgeries.
• Atrial fibrillation in heart surgery patients during the hospital stay was associated to about a 30 percent higher risk of stroke.
Atrial fibrillation, most common form of irregular heartbeat, affects an estimated 2.7 million Americans. This health condition causes irregular blood flow and can even lead to clots. These blood clots accelerate the risk of ischemic stroke. Blood thinners are often recommended to reduce clotting.