Results of open heart surgery in Jehovah's Witnesses patients

Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.
The Journal of cardiovascular surgery (Impact Factor: 1.46). 05/2009; 50(2):247-50.
Source: PubMed


The aim of this paper was to evaluate the results in patients from the religious community of Jehovah's Witnesses (JW) undergoing open heart surgery.
Between January 1998 and November 2007, 35 patients with a religious background of JW church underwent open heart surgery at the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Medical University of Vienna (Austria). Eighteen patients underwent coronary artery bypass graft (CABG), 11 patients underwent valve surgery and 5 patients underwent combined procedures. One patient underwent isolated ascending aortic replacement. Five patients undergoing CABG were operated without cardiopulmonary bypass (CBP).
Mean baseline hematocrit serum levels were 35.8+/-6.3%. The mean decrease of hematocrit serum levels was 20.0+/-21.1% after surgery. The mean decrease of hematocrit serum levels in patients undergoing CABG without CPB was 12.5+/-5.4% and 12.0+/-20.0% in patients after isolated valve replacement. One patient died during the operation. Four patients died in the postoperative period due to anemia. During follow-up, being 34.6+/-34.8 months to date, no cardiovascular related adverse event has been observed.
The decrease of hematocrit serum levels is significantly characterizing the postoperative period of open heart surgery in JW. In patients undergoing CABG without CPB and in patients undergoing isolated valve replacement, decrease of hematocrit serum levels was lowest. Therefore, these techniques should be considered for first choice when appropriate. Furthermore, highly normal preoperative hematocrit serum levels and a meticulous surgical technique remain the mainstay of therapy in these patients.

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    ABSTRACT: Jehovah's Witnesses (JW) are a Christian faith, with an estimated 1.1 million members in the United States, well recognized for their refusal of blood and blood products. JW may not be considered for cardiac surgery due to perceived higher risks of morbidity and mortality. This study reviews our contemporary strategies and experience with JW undergoing routine and complex cardiac surgery. From November 2001 to April 2010, 40 JW were referred for cardiac surgery at a single quaternary referral institution. A retrospective analysis of demographic data, perioperative management, and clinical outcomes was examined. Published validated clinical risk calculator and model for prediction of transfusion were used to identify high-risk patients (risk of mortality >6% or probability of transfusion >0.80). The mean age was 70 (± 9.5) years with 21 men and 19 women. Patients were classified as high risk (45%, n = 18) and low risk (55%, n = 22) with demographics and comorbidities listed in Table 2. Operative procedures included: isolated coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) (n = 19), isolated valve replacement/repair (n = 7), valve/CABG (n = 7), reoperative valve replacement (n = 4), reoperative CABG (n = 2), valve/ascending aorta replacement (n = 1), and CABG/ascending aorta replacement (n = 1). All JW were evaluated by The Department of Bloodless Medicine to individually define acceptable blood management strategies. The mean preoperative hemoglobin was 14.1 g/dL (±1.6). Overall mortality was 5% (n = 2) all of which were in the high-risk group. Using a multidisciplinary approach to blood management, JW can safely undergo routine and complex cardiac surgery with minimal morbidity and mortality.
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