Preadmission interventions to prevent postoperative complications in older cardiac surgery patients: a systematic review

Int J Nurs Stud. 2014 Feb;51(2):251-60. doi: 10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2013.05.011. Epub 2013 Jun 21.


Objective(s): The literature on postoperative complications in cardiac surgery patients shows high incidences of postoperative complications such as delirium, depression, pressure ulcer, infection, pulmonary complications and atrial fibrillation. These complications are associated with functional and cognitive decline and a decrease in the quality of life after discharge. Several studies attempted to prevent one or more postoperative complications by preoperative interventions. Here we provide a comprehensive overview of both single and multiple component preadmission interventions designed to prevent postoperative complications.

Methods: We systematically reviewed the literature following the PRISMA statement guidelines.

Results: Of 1335 initial citations, 31 were subjected to critical appraisal. Finally, 23 studies were included, of which we derived a list of interventions that can be applied in the preadmission period to effectively reduce postoperative depression, infection, pulmonary complications, atrial fibrillation, prolonged intensive care unit stay and hospital stay in older elective cardiac surgery patients. No high quality studies were found describing effective interventions to prevent postoperative delirium. We did not find studies specifically targeting the prevention of pressure ulcers in this patient population.

Conclusions: Multi-component approaches that include different single interventions have the strongest effect in preventing postoperative depression, pulmonary complications, prolonged intensive care unit stay and hospital stay. Postoperative infection can be best prevented by disinfection with chlorhexidine combined with immune-enhancing nutritional supplements. Atrial fibrillation might be prevented by ingestion of N-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. High quality studies are urgently needed to evaluate preadmission preventive strategies to reduce postoperative delirium or pressure ulcers in older elective cardiac surgery patients.

Keywords: Cardiac surgical procedure; Older patients; Postoperative complications; Preadmission preventive measures.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cardiac Surgical Procedures / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Admission*
  • Postoperative Complications / prevention & control*
  • Preoperative Period*