New study: Warmer surgeries may reduce heart risks
From Correspondent Jeff Levine
BALTIMORE (CNN) -- Keeping patients warmer during surgery may
reduce the risk of serious heart complications, according to
a new study by researchers at Johns Hopkins University.
They found that patients who were covered by a special paper
and plastic blanket, through which warm air circulates while
surgeons work, were 55 percent less likely to experience
serious heart complications than patients who aren't covered.
Powerful anesthetics used during surgery hinder the body's
natural thermostat. So, like cold-blooded creatures, patients
begin to adapt to the temperature of the environment around
them -- and operating rooms usually aren't very warm.
The study's findings are reported in the Journal of the
American Medical Association.
Lower temperature, higher risk
"Most surgeons don't like to operate where it's very hot, so
I think that sometimes the temperature is, in the room,
rather cool for a patient," said Dr. Fray Marshall of Johns
Hopkins Medical Institutions.
"When a patient is moderately or severely hypothermic, such
as 90 degrees or 85 degrees, then there's always the risk of
cardiac arrest," added Dr. Steven Frank. "[Temperature]
happens to be the vital sign that has been most ignored over
the 100 years since we started monitoring."
The researchers looked at 300 older patients undergoing major
surgery. About half received no special treatment in terms of
body temperature. The other half were covered by the blanket.
The potential reduction in heart risk comes at a reasonable
price. The blanket only costs $15 to $20.
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