The distance a patient can walk in 6-minutes before a heart operation may be a clue to whether that patient will develop problems with memory, concentration, and attention after the procedure, according to a study published online in The Annals of Thoracic Surgery.
Broadly speaking, a decline in cognitive performance after surgery is known as postoperative cognitive dysfunction (POCD). With POCD, a patient’s mental aptitude is weaker after surgery, resulting not only in a greater risk of complications, but also a lesser quality of life. Cognitive deterioration is increasingly recognized as a common occurrence after major surgery, especially among older adult patients.
“This study indicates that the easy and inexpensive 6-minute walk distance (6MWD) is a valuable assessment for identifying patients at a high risk for POCD,” said Kazuhiro Hayashi, PT, MSc, of Nagoya University Hospital in Japan. “If we are able to identify patients who are at risk for POCD, we can provide early treatment and encourage them to better understand the dysfunction.”
Hayashi agrees that a multidisciplinary approach, which includes elements such as pre-habilitation, is key to a better assessment and treatment outcome. “Precise preoperative risk assessment for postoperative complications is critical, and when indicated, supervised exercise before an operation should be recommended to improve functional exercise capacity before heart surgery,” he said.
Source: Society of Thoracic Surgeons