Pre-Op Slow Gait Speed May Predict Adverse Heart Surgery Outcomes

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Each 0.1-m/s decrease associated with an 11% relative increase in mortality
Each 0.1-m/s decrease associated with an 11% relative increase in mortality

HealthDay News — Patients who aren't able to walk a short distance at a comfortable pace before cardiac surgery are at greater postoperative risk for death, according to research published online on May 11 in JAMA Cardiology.

Jonathan Afilalo, MD, of McGill University in Montreal, and colleagues assessed heart patients' ability to walk about 16 feet in a reasonable amount of time. The study included 15,171 participants who underwent cardiac surgery at 109 different medical centers. The patients averaged 71 years of age and underwent coronary artery bypass graft, aortic valve surgery, mitral valve surgery, or combined procedures. Before their surgery, all of the patients underwent a gait speed test.

The researchers found that those who had a slow gait speed were at increased risk of death after surgery. Overall, every second longer it took patients to walk the course resulted in an 11% relative increase in death after surgery.

"Gait speed is an independent predictor of adverse outcomes after cardiac surgery, with each 0.1-m/s decrease conferring an 11% relative increase in mortality," the authors write. "Gait speed can be used to refine estimates of operative risk, to support decision-making and, since incremental value is modest when used as a sole criterion for frailty, to screen older adults who could benefit from further assessment."

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