New protocols could significantly reduce postoperative setbacks in cardiac patients

From Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation:

IMAGE: This is principal Investigator Timothy Henry, MD. view more

Credit: MHIF

Minneapolis, MN – Sept. 7, 2016 – Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a condition in which the upper chambers of the heart contract in a way that’s out of sync with the lower chambers, causing an irregular heartbeat and poor blood flow to the body. This leads to increased risk for blood clots in the heart, stroke and heart failure. The CDC estimates that up to 6 million Americans have a form of AF, a number which is expected to rise as the population ages. A common form of AF is postoperative atrial fibrillation (POAF), which occurs in patients who have undergone surgery. This can lead to lengthened hospital stays, complications and mortality.

The Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation (MHIF) recognized that the occurrence of POAF under traditional surgical protocols was not preventing or reducing the number of POAF patients. A team, led by Principal Investigators Timothy Henry, MD, and Craig Strauss, MD, MPH, was tasked with investigating whether the protocols could be changed in such a way that POAF could be reduced. They reviewed existing literature and protocols as well as data from electronic medical records (EMR), which indicated that POAF occurs in nearly 30% of cardiovascular surgery cases. The highest incidences occurred in people over the age of 70 with left atrial enlargement and hypertension.

A new protocol was developed and entered in the EMR, advising physicians and surgeons to look for patients eligible to receive the prophylactic amiodarone that can treat and prevent AF. Part of the investigation was to determine how the use of the EMR in such a way could be leveraged to both identify prospective patients and to inform physicians of this development.

The new …

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