Study objectives: The goal of this study was to determine whether prolonged hospital stay associated with atrial fibrillation or flutter (AF) after coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery is attributable to the characteristics of patients who develop this arrhythmia or to the rhythm disturbance itself.
Design: An investigation was conducted through a prospective case series.
Setting: Patients were from a single urban teaching hospital.
Participants: Consecutive patients undergoing isolated CABG surgery between December 1994 and May 1996 were included in the study.
Interventions: No interventions were involved.
Results: Of 436 patients undergoing isolated CABG surgery, 101 (23%) developed AF. AF patients were older and more likely to have obstructive lung disease than patients without AF, but both patients with and without AF had similar left ventricular function and extent of coronary disease. ICU and hospital stays were longer in patients with AF. Multivariate analysis, adjusted for age, gender, and race, demonstrated that postoperative hospital stay was 9.2±5.3 days in patients with AF and 6.4±5.3 days in patients without AF (p<0.001).
Conclusions: Although AF is strongly associated with advanced age, most of the prolonged hospital stay appears to be attributable to the rhythm itself and not to patient characteristics.