Background: In North America, octogenarians are the fastest growing demographic. Chronological age of a patient is not always the same as their biological age, and their biological status can vary from robust to frail. Frail patients are predisposed to falls, institutionalization, hospitalization, and mortality. In the realm of cardiac surgery, there is little research examining frailty as a risk factor for cardiac surgical intervention.
Purpose: The objective of the current study is to explore the relationship between more subtle degrees of frailty and cardiac surgical outcomes in more detail.
Methods: This non-interventional study subjects all consented participants fitting inclusion criteria to the same questionnaires. The assessment is comprised of the Frailty Assessment for Care-Planning Tool (FACT) for both patient and their collateral, and the EQ-5D-3L. A similar interview process is repeated 5-7 months after surgery, with the addition of a qualitative interview.
Results: Pilot study results (n=57) show that 52% of the participants were positive for at least one category of frailty at a level of 4/7 (vulnerable). Results also demonstrated that 3.8% of participants who scored zero deficits on the FACT were discharged to an institution for follow up care compared to 19.3% of participants with one or more deficits.
Conclusions: Overall, participants were much frailer than expected, with over half being considered vulnerable or worse on the FACT scale. This signifies an increase in frailty in the elderly population, which supplies rationale for the current study. This study will analyze a larger sample of elderly cardiac surgery patients in the Atlantic provinces to more thoroughly investigate this relationship.
Implications: This study will assist in educating future heart surgery patients about their possible risks. It is hoped that patients who possess more knowledge about their personal risks will be able to make more informed decisions about their surgery. Strategies to address and reduce frailty by increasing mobility and cognitive function and reducing nutritional deficiencies could use this information to inform future work.