Cardiovascular risk assessment of the diabetic patient undergoing major noncardiac surgery

Best Pract Res Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2009 Jun;23(3):361-73. doi: 10.1016/j.beem.2009.01.002.


Noncardiac surgery is associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. It is important to stratify the risk of these patients for perioperative cardiac events. Diabetes, a presently rapidly expanding disease, is a major risk factor for cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Importantly, silent ischemia is more common in diabetic patients than in the general population. When preoperative risk assessment identifies an increased risk, further cardiac testing is warranted. The most commonly used stress tests for detecting cardiac ischemia is treadmill or bicycle ergometry. However, patients undergoing noncardiac surgery frequently have limited exercise capacity due to co-morbidities. Pharmacologic testing, such as dobutamine stress echocardiography and dipyridamole myocardial perfusion scintigraphy can be performed in patients with limited exercise capacity. Non-invasive stress testing should be considered, especially in diabetic patients, to detect asymptomatic coronary artery disease. Furthermore, when an increased cardiac risk is assessed, two strategies could be used to reduce the incidence of perioperative cardiac events: 1) prophylactic coronary revascularization from which the value is still controversial, and 2) pharmacological treatment (with beta-blockers, statins and aspirin), associated with improved post-operative outcome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Coronary Artery Disease / diagnosis
  • Diabetes Mellitus*
  • Exercise Test
  • Humans
  • Perioperative Care
  • Risk Assessment
  • Surgical Procedures, Operative / adverse effects*