Brazilian Journal of Anesthesiology
Brazilian Journal of Anesthesiology
Original Investigation

The association of hemoglobin with postoperative delirium and atrial fibrillation after cardiac surgery: a retrospective sub-study

Sinem Sari, Jack Brooker, Mateo Montalvo-Campana, Peter Shehata, Xuan Pu, Steven Insler, Kurt Ruetzler, Christopher A. Troianos, Alparslan Turan

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Most cardiac surgery patients experience postoperative anemia. Delirium and Atrial Fibrillation (AF) are common and independent predictors of morbidity and mortality. Few reports examine their association with postoperative anemia. This study aims to quantify the association between anemia and these outcomes in patients undergoing cardiac surgery.


This post-hoc analysis of the DECADE randomized controlled trial ran at six academic US hospitals. Patients aged 18–85 years with heart rate > 50 bpm undergoing cardiac surgery who had daily hemoglobin measurements in the first 5 Postoperative Days (POD) were included. Delirium was assessed twice daily with the Confusion Assessment Method for the ICU (CAM – ICU), preceded by the Richmond Agitation and Sedation Scale, with patients excluded from assessment if sedated. Patients had daily hemoglobin measurements, continuous cardiac monitoring plus twice-daily 12-lead electrocardiograms, up to POD4. AF was diagnosed by clinicians blinded to hemoglobin levels.


Five hundred and eighty-five patients were included. Mean postoperative hemoglobin Hazard Ratio (HR): 0.99 (95% CI 0.83, 1.19; p = 0.94) per 1 g.dL−1 hemoglobin decrease. 197 (34%) developed AF, mainly on POD = 2.3. Estimated HR = 1.04 (95% CI 0.93, 1.17; p = 0.51) per 1 g.dL−1 hemoglobin decrease.


Most patients undergoing major cardiac surgery were anemic in the postoperative phase. AF and delirium occurred in 34% and 12% of patients, respectively, but neither were significantly correlated with postoperative hemoglobin.


Anemia, Delirium, Atrial fibrillation, General anesthesia, Cardiac surgery


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Braz J Anesthesiol

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