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Poor Blood Sugar Control After Heart Surgery Impacts Outcomes

Even patients without diabetes face 4-fold increase in death, major complications

MONDAY, July 14 (HealthDay News) -- Maintaining proper blood sugar levels after heart surgery is essential, whether one is or isn't a diabetic, a new study shows.

The British report, published in Circulation, shows that poor blood sugar control in post-heart surgery patients is linked to a fourfold increase in death and major complications, such as heart attack, neurological, kidney, lung and gastrointestinal injury.

The research, involving 9,000 heart surgery patients, was conducted by a team at the University of Bristol in the U.K. More than half of the patients who developed moderate to poor blood sugar control after surgery were not thought to be diabetic, the researchers found.

Diabetes has long been tied to post-heart surgery problem. Many advances in operative and intensive care techniques for diabetic heart patients have been implemented in recent years.

"Currently, the absence of recognized guidelines is creating confusion on how to face the challenge of clinical conditions other than diabetes leading to derangement of glucose metabolism. The lack of rigorous research in this field does not help," lead researcher Raimondo Ascione, reader and consultant in Cardiac Surgery at the Bristol Heart Institute, said in a news release issued by the university.

He called for doctors to issue strict protocols to actively manage blood sugar in all patients admitted for major surgery.

Peter Weissberg is medical director of the British Heart Foundation, which co-funded the study. In the same news release, he noted that, "while previous research has shown blood sugar levels have an important impact on the outcome of patients suffering a heart attack, this study shows for the first time the same may also be true for patients undergoing heart surgery.

"This research provides the basis for further, in depth studies to try to understand how better sugar control can help save more lives during and after heart surger," he said.

More information

The National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse has more about diabetes and heart disease.

-- Kevin McKeever

SOURCE: University of Bristol, news release, July 8, 2008

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