Influence of age on cardiac surgery outcomes in United States veterans

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Heart Surgery Forum








© 2020 Forum Multimedia Publishing LLC. All rights reserved. Objective: Heart disease is still the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States, and the rate of cardiovascular disease in veterans is even higher than in civilians. This study examines age-related outcomes for veterans undergoing cardiac surgeries at a single institution. Methods: We included all veterans undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) and/or valve surgery between 1997 to 2017 at a single Veterans Affairs (VA) medical center. We stratified this cohort into 4 age groups: ≤59 years old, 60-69 years old, 70-79 years old, and ≥80 years old. Outcomes in age groups were compared using standard statistical methods with the ≤59 years old group as reference. Results: A total of 2,301 patients underwent open cardiac procedures at our institution. The frequency of simultaneous CABG and valve operations increased with age. Usage of cardiopulmonary bypass versus off-pump CABG and operative time was not associated with age. Increased pulmonary and renal complications as well as rates of postoperative arrhythmias all were associated with increasing age. There was no statistically significant difference in 30-day mortality. However, multivariable analysis adjusted for covariates showed all-cause mortality significantly was increased with older age groups (aHR ≥80 years old: 2.94 [2.07-4.17], P < .01; aHR 70-79 years old: 2.15 [1.63-2.83], P < 0.01, with ≤59 years old as reference). Conclusions: Older patients may have comparable perioperative mortality as their younger counterparts. However, age still is a significant predictor of all-cause mortality, pulmonary and renal complications, and postoperative arrhythmia, and should be considered as a major factor in preoperative risk assessment.

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