Use of complementary medicines by cardiac surgery patients; undisclosed and undetected

Heart Lung Circ. 2011 May;20(5):305-11. doi: 10.1016/j.hlc.2011.01.013. Epub 2011 Feb 11.


Background: Some complementary medicines (CMs) confer benefits in people with cardiovascular disease, yet they also pose risks such as drug interactions and haemorrhage.

Objectives: To determine cardiac surgery patients' perioperative use of CMs, disclosure about their use and interest in hospitals providing access to complementary therapies.

Method: An anonymous survey of 205 elective cardiac surgery inpatients at Cabrini Hospital, Victoria.

Results: Of the 161 respondents (78% response rate), 51% took CMs and 92% took prescription medicines in the two weeks before admission. Of those taking CMs, 42% intended to continue this use in hospital. Medical doctors were the main prescribers and 25% of patients were taking fish oils and 25% multivitamins. Use was not significantly associated with gender, education or income. In hospital, the main reason for non-disclosure about CM use was not being asked. Of those asked about their use, 52% reported being asked by a nurse, 12% a surgeon, 12% a pharmacist and 8% an anaesthetist. Most (85%) of the total sample would consider using complementary therapies if offered by hospitals.

Conclusions: CMs are used by cardiac surgery patients but communication with surgeons and anaesthetists is poor. There is substantial patient interest in hospital-based complementary therapies.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cardiac Surgical Procedures*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / therapy*
  • Communication
  • Complementary Therapies*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Perioperative Care*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*
  • Victoria