Prehabilitation to prevent complications after cardiac surgery - A retrospective study with propensity score analysis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
58 Downloads (Pure)


BACKGROUND: The rising prevalence of modifiable lifestyle-related risk factors (e.g. overweight and physical inactivity) suggests the need for effective and safe preoperative interventions to improve outcomes after cardiac surgery. This retrospective study explored potential short-term postoperative benefits and unintended consequences of a multidisciplinary prehabilitation program regarding in-hospital complications.

METHODS: Data on patients who underwent elective cardiac surgery between January 2014 and April 2017 were analyzed retrospectively. Pearson's chi-squared tests were used to compare patients who followed prehabilitation (three times per week, at a minimum of three weeks) during the waiting period with patients who received no prehabilitation. Sensitivity analyses were performed using propensity-score matching, in which the propensity score was based on the baseline variables that affected the outcomes.

RESULTS: Of 1201 patients referred for elective cardiac surgery, 880 patients met the inclusion criteria, of whom 91 followed prehabilitation (53.8% ≥ 65 years, 78.0% male, median Euroscore II 1.3, IQR, 0.9-2.7) and 789 received no prehabilitation (60.7% ≥ 65 years, 69.6% male, median Euroscore II 1.6, IQR, 1.0-2.8). The incidence of atrial fibrillation (AF) was significantly lower in the prehabilitation group compared to the unmatched and matched standard care group (resp. 14.3% vs. 23.8%, P = 0.040 and 14.3% vs. 25.3%, P = 0.030). For the other complications, no between-group differences were found.

CONCLUSIONS: Prehabilitation might be beneficial to prevent postoperative AF. Patients participated safely in prehabilitation and were not at higher risk for postoperative complications. However, well-powered randomized controlled trials are needed to confirm and deepen these results.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 16-Jul-2021

Cite this