Obese and morbidly obese coronary patients are more likely to suffer infections and
complications following heart surgery, according to cardiothoracic surgeons in Victoria.
Dr Cheng-Hon Yap, a cardiothoracic surgery registrar from St Vincent's hospital in
Melbourne, and colleagues, say patients having coronary artery bypass grafting or heart valve
surgery are 1.4 times more likely to be obese compared to the general adult Australian
Their findings, published in the latest Medical Journal of Australia, showed obesity was
linked to wound infection and renal failure following operation.
"Morbid obesity was associated with prolonged ventilation, readmission to the intensive care
unit and prolonged length of stay," says Dr Yap.
"We did not find an increased risk of early mortality in patients with obesity or morbid
Unlike current Australian population data that suggest obesity was most prevalent in the 55-
74 year age group, the researchers found obesity to be most prevalent in heart surgery
patients aged 35-54 years.
"This may be because doctors might consider elderly patients who are obese to be poor
candidates for surgery," says Dr Yap.
"Younger obese patients are in comparison more likely to be referred for surgery as they are
seen as having lower surgical risks and may have more to gain from the survival advantages
conferred by cardiac surgery."
Dr Yap says their findings are similar to data from Europe, the UK and the United States,
indicating that this trend is evident in most of the developed nations.
The Medical Journal of Australia is a publication of the Australian Medical Association.
The original article can be viewed online at www.mja.com.au
The statements or opinions that are expressed in the MJA reflect the views of the authors and do not represent the official policy of the AMA unless that is so stated.
CONTACT: Dr Cheng-Hon Yap 03 9288 2211 / 0402 015 001
Kylie Walker, AMA Public Affairs 02 62760 5471 / 0405 229 152