Cardiac Surgery

Increased complications and prolonged hospital stay in elderly cardiac surgical patients with low serum albumin.

Rich MW, Keller AJ, Schechtman KB, Marshall WG Jr, Kouchoukos NT.

Am J Cardiol 1989 Mar 15;63(11):714-8

Cardiac surgery in elderly patients is associated with acceptable operative mortality but an increased complication rate. Malnutrition is common in the elderly and may adversely affect surgical outcome. To determine the effect of hypoalbuminemia on postoperative complications, 92 patients greater than or equal to 75 years (range 75 to 90) undergoing a variety of major cardiac surgical procedures were evaluated. Thirteen patients (14%) had a serum albumin level less than 3.5 g/dl preoperatively. Compared to patients with normal albumin, hypoalbuminemic patients had an increased frequency of postoperative confusion, congestive heart failure, low cardiac output, renal dysfunction and gastrointestinal complications (all p less than 0.05). Mean postoperative length of stay was markedly prolonged in these patients (27 vs 12 days; p less than 0.001), and mortality also tended to be higher (31 vs 13%; p = 0.11). Using multivariate analysis, albumin less than 3.5 g/dl was the most powerful predictor of postoperative renal dysfunction (p less than 0.01), and was also an independent predictor of increased length of stay (p less than 0.01) and gastrointestinal disorders (p less than 0.05). Thus, hypoalbuminemia is a powerful indicator of an increased risk of perioperative complications in elderly patients undergoing cardiac surgery. Increased attention to nutritional factors is warranted in these patients.