One of the most common postoperative problems many patients face after undergoing major surgery is atrial fibrillation. In fact, research indicates post-op Afib occurs in as many as 65 percent of cardiac surgery patients, causing more post-surgery complications, longer hospital stays and impairment in cognitive functions like memory. Even in patients without heart disease, postoperative Afib still occurs in up to 20 percent of those who undergo vascular surgery or thoracic surgery, exposing them to the same postoperative risks.
For cardiac patients, doctors have used a predictive tool called the CHADS2 score to determine which patients were most at risk for developing post-op Afib. A recent study shows the score can also be used to predict the condition even among non-cardiac patients.
What is the CHADS2 score?
For years, the CHADS2 score has been a valuable tool for predicting which atrial fibrillation patients were most at risk for having a stroke. CHADS2 is an acronym for risk factors that, when taken together, can indicate an Afib patient is at an increased risk for stroke. It stands for:
- Congestive heart failure
- High blood pressure (above 140/90)
- Age of at least 75 years
- Prior Stroke, transient ischemic attack (TIA) or thromboembolism
People with higher CHADS2 scores have a higher risks of having a stroke.
Using the score to predict atrial fibrillation in patients following surgery is one of the best ways for healthcare workers to mitigate those risks by taking proactive or preventive steps. For instance, the current study showed patients who had limited fluids after surgery had lower CHADS2 scores, meaning they had less risk of developing post-op Afib. Doctors can use that information in understanding how to manage high-risk patients – for instance, by restricting fluids during the immediate post-op period to reduce their risk of Afib.
Understand Your Risks Before Surgery
As a leading electrophysiologist in southwest Florida and throughout the U.S., Dr. Dilip Mathew helps patients manage cardiac arrhytmias, including atrial fibrillation, so they can enjoy a better quality of life. With offices in Sarasota and Venice, Dr. Mathew uses state-of-the-art techniques like cardiac ablation and implantable defibrillators so men and women can feel confident in their care and their health. If you’re planning to undergo surgery, talking with Dr. Mathew about your risks as well as how to treat Afib, if it occurs, can provide you with additional peace of mind, even before surgery. Call today and schedule your consultation.