CCC 2012: Improved Quality of Life Despite Post-Surgical Brain Deficits

December 13, 2012

Patients placed on a heart-lung machine for heart surgery have a high incidence of neurocognitive deficits, including memory loss, attention deficits and decline in motor skills. New data from Heart Institute investigators provide some reassurance, though, that many of these deficits resolve over time, and even patients with residual deficits report a better quality of life than before surgery.

Dr. Hadi Toeg, a cardiac surgery resident, and colleagues prospectively evaluated almost 700 patients undergoing non-emergency, on-pump coronary artery bypass surgery. Patients participating in the study underwent neurological evaluations before surgery, at discharge from the hospital and three months after discharge.

Although 38 per cent of patients had at least one post-operative cognitive deficit at discharge, this number decreased to 19 per cent after three months. Patient deficits identified by evaluation did not correlate with self-reported physical and mental quality of life. “Most people having bypass have an improved quality of life overall,” reported Dr. Toeg.