Study objective: The present study was performed to determine the influence of a perioperative myocardial infarction on long-term mortality in patients who have undergone elective vascular surgery.
Study design: This was a 4-year follow-up of patients who had undergone elective vascular procedures at a Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Between January 1989 and December 1990, 115 consecutive patients underwent surgery for either an expanding abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) (38%) or for pain in the lower extremities (62%).
Results: Vital status at 4 years postsurgery was determined for all patients. Thirty-day postoperative mortality was 3%, while estimates at 1, 2, 3, and 4 years were 19%, 26%, 35%, and 39%, respectively. Of the 45 patients who died within 4 years following surgery, the major causes of death were cardiac (40%), cancer (18%), cerebrovascular (13%), and peripheral vascular disease (11%). Univariate predictors of 1-year mortality on preoperative evaluation were an abnormal ECG, moderate or greater sized exercise thallium defect and left ventricular ejection fraction ≤40%, and a perioperative myocardial infarction. Univariate predictors of 4-year mortality were non-AAA surgery and diabetes mellitus. Perioperative myocardial infarction was a marginally significant independent predictor of 1-year mortality (p=0.06), while the need for non-AAA surgery was a strong independent predictor at 4 years.
Conclusions: Cardiac mortality is the major cause of late death among patients undergoing elective vascular surgery. Although preoperative indicators of symptomatic coronary artery disease and nonfatal perioperative myocardial infarction identified those individuals at increased mortality in the first postoperative year, the extent of vascular disease at presentation may be a more important determinant of long-term survival. A randomized trial in such patients is needed to assess the best strategy for treating patients with coexistent coronary artery and vascular diseases.