Obese cardiac patients a drain on ICU resources

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There is a simple correlation between obesity and heart-surgery patient recovery, according to research published online in The Annals of Thoracic Surgery. The larger the patient, the more hospital resources required.

A study of 5,365 patients who underwent cardiac surgery at New Brunswick Heart Centre in Canada revealed patients with higher levels of obesity were four times more likely to require extra time in the intensive care unit (ICU), three times more likely to need additional time on mechanical ventilation and three times more likely to be readmitted to the ICU. They also required longer hospital stays and were more likely to need home care following discharge.

The researchers said the data from the study could help health care providers better predict ICU bed vacancies and allow for more efficient scheduling of surgeries and staff.

“The ICU provides a number of highly specialized services to care for patients who are seriously ill,” wrote lead author Brandon R. Rosvall, BSc, of Dalhousie Medicine New Brunswick. “Expensive resources including staff, medical equipment, and medication are needed to provide these services. Health care is costly, so by more efficiently using ICU resources, we can save the health care system money, while also improving overall patient care."