Kidney problems after heart surgery can increase mortality

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A frequent complication from cardiac surgery could increase patients’ risk of dying shortly following the procedure, according to a new study out of the Yale University School of Medicine.

Following cardiac surgery, patients with elevated levels of kidney injury biomarkers are at a significantly higher risk of dying during the next three years, a Yale study has found. The results appear in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

An earlier Yale study identified specific blood and urine markers that can predict which patients will suffer acute kidney injury after cardiac surgery. AKI is a frequent complication of cardiac surgery, and the Yale investigators demonstrated that biomarkers predicted who is at risk of progressively worsening kidney function immediately after surgery.

The new study examined mortality at an average of three years after cardiac surgery. The researchers found that patients with clinically apparent AKI who also had high levels of urinary biomarkers of kidney injury faced a 2- to 3.2-fold increased risk for mortality over three years, compared with patients with the lowest levels of these biomarkers. However, the most interesting finding, say the researchers, was that even patients who have no evidence of clinical AKI, but who do have high levels of these injury biomarkers in their urine were also at higher risk of death.

The researchers believe these findings can provide an important way to assess patients — both with and without clinical AKI — in the immediate postoperative period in order to identify those who are at increased risk of death.

Amanda Cuda

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