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Heart attacks, stroke a risk after noncardiac surgery

Sep 27, 2018 | Surgical Errors

A study published in JAMA Cardiology shows that those who undergo noncardiac surgery may develop complications that lead to heart attacks, stroke and even death. New York residents who are hospitalized for non-heart-related surgery will want to know what’s involved in this trend; after all, more than 300 million noncardiac surgeries are performed worldwide every year.

Researchers analyzed more than 10 million hospitalizations between 2004 and 2013 and discovered 317,000 cases where complications developed. This comes to about 1 in 33 hospitalizations in the U.S. Those who underwent vascular, thoracic and transplant surgeries were the most widely affected with 7.7, 6.5 and 6.3 percent of them, respectively, developing complications. Obstetric and gynecologic surgery generated the lowest risk.

Several trends could be determined among the 317,000 patients. The patients were more likely to be older, to be male and to have cardiovascular risk factors like obesity, hypertension, diabetes and a history of tobacco or alcohol abuse.

Every year, according to the research team’s estimate, about 150,000 heart attacks and strokes occur in the U.S. following noncardiac surgery. Researchers believe that the numbers may be higher than some statistics suggest because hospitals often discharge their patients right after surgery and do not follow up on their condition. Pain medicines given during surgery may mask heart attack symptoms.

The failure to follow up on patients after surgery may or may not be considered negligence. There are other cases, as with a wrong-site surgery, where it’s clear that the surgeon or other health care provider made a mistake. Those who believe they were the victims of medical malpractice might benefit from speaking with a lawyer about filing a claim. The lawyer may decide to request an inquiry with the local medical board and even hire third parties to conduct their own investigation. With a lawyer, victims might be able to negotiate for a fair settlement.