Nav: Home

Risk of cardiovascular complications post-surgery doubles for patients with sleep apnea

May 14, 2019

TORONTO - According to a new study published today in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), patients who have severe obstructive sleep apnea have a significantly higher risk of complications related to their heart in the first 30 days after major surgery.

"We found that the risk of postoperative complications related to their heart was 50% higher in patients with sleep apnea compared to those without sleep apnea," says Dr. Frances Chung, a Clinician Investigator with the Krembil Research Institute and a Professor in the Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Management at the University Health Network and University of Toronto.

Severe obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type of sleep breathing disorder and has also been associated with a higher risk of cardiac diseases, hypertension, stroke, atrial fibrillation, diabetes and cognitive impairment. It is also associated with three-fold increase in death rate.

During obstructive sleep apnea, the upper airway is blocked by the tongue and surrounding tissues during sleep, which may result in a lack of oxygen to the brain. "As a result, in the general population, obstructive sleep apnea is associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular complications including high blood pressure, angina, irregular heartbeat, heart failure and sudden death," says Dr. Chung. "In this study, we wanted to determine whether sleep apnea would pose a similar risk to surgical patients."

Key Findings:
  • The authors identified 1,218 pre-surgical patients newly diagnosed with sleep apnea and followed them for 30 days after their surgery.
  • These surgical patients had a 50% higher risk of complications related to their heart. The authors believe this is due to the sleep apnea going undiagnosed and untreated.
  • On further analysis, patients with severe sleep apnea were associated with a 14-fold increase in cardiac death, an 80% higher risk of heart injury and an almost 7-fold higher risk of heart failure.
  • Since sleep apnea occurs while you're asleep, 80% of men and 90% of women with sleep apnea may not even know they have it.
Bottom Line:

30% of our surgical population has unrecognized moderate to severe sleep apnea. The patients in this study were not diagnosed and they were not treated before surgery. "The key takeaway here is that if patients have symptoms of sleep apnea, perhaps they should be treated before undergoing major surgery," says Dr. Chung. "Further study is needed to determine how best to prevent patients with severe sleep apnea from having a higher risk of heart complications."
-end-
About the Krembil Research Institute

The Krembil Research Institute (or "Krembil") is one of the principal research institutes of the University Health Network. The Krembil is focused on research programs dedicated to brain & spine, arthritis and vision disorders, with a goal to alleviate debilitating chronic disease through basic, translational & clinical research. Krembil is located at the Toronto Western Hospital in downtown Toronto and is supported by the Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation, which raises funds for research, education and patient care.

http://www.uhn.ca/Research/Research_Institutes/Krembil

About University Health Network

University Health Network (UHN) comprises Toronto General and Toronto Western Hospitals, the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and The Michener Institute of Education. The scope of research and complexity of cases at UHN has made it a national & international source for discovery, education, commercialization and patient care. UHN has the largest hospital-based research program in Canada, spanning cardiology, transplantation, neurosciences, oncology, surgical innovation, infectious diseases, genomic medicine and rehabilitation medicine. UHN is affiliated with the University of Toronto. http://www.uhn.ca

MEDIA CONTACT

Heather Sherman, Senior Advisor, Public Affairs
Neuroscience | Arthritis | Vision
University Health Network | 416-603-5294 | heather.sherman@uhn.ca

University Health Network

Related Heart Failure Articles:

New hope for treating heart failure
Heart failure patients who are getting by on existing drug therapies can look forward to a far more effective medicine in the next five years or so, thanks to University of Alberta researchers.
Activated T-cells drive post-heart attack heart failure
Chronic inflammation after a heart attack can promote heart failure and death.
ICU care for COPD, heart failure and heart attack may not be better
Does a stay in the intensive care unit give patients a better chance of surviving a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or heart failure flare-up or even a heart attack, compared with care in another type of hospital unit?
Tissue engineering advance reduces heart failure in model of heart attack
Researchers have grown heart tissue by seeding a mix of human cells onto a 1-micron-resolution scaffold made with a 3-D printer.
Smoking may lead to heart failure by thickening the heart wall
Smokers without obvious signs of heart disease were more likely than nonsmokers and former smokers to have thickened heart walls and reduced heart pumping ability.
More Heart Failure News and Heart Failure Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Anthropomorphic
Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#534 Bacteria are Coming for Your OJ
What makes breakfast, breakfast? Well, according to every movie and TV show we've ever seen, a big glass of orange juice is basically required. But our morning grapefruit might be in danger. Why? Citrus greening, a bacteria carried by a bug, has infected 90% of the citrus groves in Florida. It's coming for your OJ. We'll talk with University of Maryland plant virologist Anne Simon about ways to stop the citrus killer, and with science writer and journalist Maryn McKenna about why throwing antibiotics at the problem is probably not the solution. Related links: A Review of the Citrus Greening...