Study links nutrition to long-term health of patients recovering from heart surgery

Posted at 2:46 PM, Jan 05, 2021

A new study shows the importance of proper nutrition for cardiac patients who undergo heart surgery.

Researchers from Saint Petersburg State University in Russia investigated the connection between malnutrition and its long-term impact on patients who had heart surgery. A patient's nutritional health was given a risk score based on a five-step process.

Doctors found those who were under-nourished before surgery were more likely to experience complications within three years.

The American Heart Association was not involved with the study but says it should remind cardiologists to discuss nutrition with every patient, just in case.

“Some of the patients that we know are going in for surgery may be acute, and we may not have much time to make the dietary changes/ But there are some that can plan ahead, and I think we, as doctors, can make a difference on that front,” said Dr. Reshmaal Gomes, a volunteer with the American Heart Association.

The study followed more than 600 patients over eight years. The three-year survival rate for those who were malnourished was 83%, compared to 93% for those who were healthy.

Over eight years, the survival rate for malnourished patients was 68%, compared to 77% for those who were healthy.

Gomes says heart patients can consume more necessary vitamins and minerals each day by drinking a bottle of Similac or Ensure.

“I think looking at the overall nutrition, I think that's an important thing,” Gomes said.”I think we as doctors and cardiologists have to look at it more intensely.”

Gomes says that if a patient is in heart failure, their body may retain more water. That could lead to an artificially high body mass index. When it comes to foods a patient can eat,

Gomes said each person is different, so patients should talk to a doctor about any specific dietary changes.