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.
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