Chronic Pain After Heart Surgery

A study published in the current issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) found that of more than 1,200 patients aged 18 and above who underwent heart surgery, one in 10 reported persistent pain for up to two years following their procedure. The authors note the reporting of similar findings in the past, and observe that persistent postoperative pain continues to be undertreated despite ongoing awareness campaigns, care guidelines and educational efforts.

Those with increased risk of pain two years after heart surgery were found to include younger patients, patients with chronic pain before the operation; patients with elevated anxiety levels before the procedure; and those who had higher levels of pain during the first week after surgery. The study authors noted that anxiety before surgery and pain severity in the first few days after surgery are modifiable risk factors for long-term pain after heart surgery, and pointed to the need for patient education about the risk of long-term chronic pain, which can reduce quality of life.

Read a news story here.

The study abstract may be read here.

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