Underutilization of Perioperative Screening for Cardiovascular Events After Noncardiac Surgery in Alberta
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BACKGROUND: Perioperative myocardial injury after noncardiac surgery affects more than 10% of individuals, with increased morbidity and mortality. Perioperative cardiac risk assessment targets the identification of this high-risk population using preoperative natriuretic peptides and postoperative troponin measurements. Our objective was to assess the use of these biomarkers in the province of Alberta. METHODS: A retrospective cohort of all patients who underwent noncardiac surgery in Alberta from January 2013 to December 2017 was created using linked provincial administrative databases. Inclusion criteria were modified from recommendations for perioperative cardiac screening including: patients with a Revised Cardiac Risk Index score ≥ 1 and age 65 years or older, or 45 years of age or older with history of cardiovascular disease, with planned overnight hospital stay. RESULTS: In our cohort of 59,506 patients, only 6.8% underwent preoperative natriuretic peptide screening. Rates of appropriate preoperative natriuretic peptide testing increased marginally from 5.7% to 8.8% over the study period. Postoperative troponin was measured at least once in 19.5% of patients. Patients with elevated perioperative screening biomarkers showed increased 6-month mortality, and increased hospitalizations for heart failure and acute coronary syndromes. CONCLUSIONS: The use of biomarkers to assist in cardiac risk stratification and postoperative monitoring remains low. Addressing access to these tests and improving physician education regarding the asymptomatic nature of postoperative cardiac events might improve compliance with national guidelines.
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