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Am Heart J. 2003 Sep;146(3):555-60.

Obesity and the risk of early and late mortality after coronary artery bypass graft surgery.

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  • 1Division of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minn 55454, USA.



Obesity is often considered to be a significant risk factor for postoperative mortality when selecting candidates for coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG).


We included all patients undergoing a first isolated CABG at the Karolinska Hospital in Stockholm, Sweden, between 1980 and 1995 (n = 6728). Patients were categorized on the basis of body mass index (BMI): non-overweight (BMI <25 kg/m2), overweight (25 kg/m2 < or = BMI <30 kg/m2), and obese (BMI > or =30 kg/m2). Multivariate Cox regression was used to assess the risk of re-operation for bleeding, deep sternal wound infection, and early (< or =30 days) and late (< or =5 years) mortality rates.


The average length of follow-up was 6.5 years. There were 252 re-operations for bleeding, 53 deep sternal wound infections, and 628 deaths. Patients who were obese had a significantly lower risk of re-operation for bleeding (risk ratio [RR], 0.32; 95% CI, 0.19-0.53), but a greater risk of deep sternal wound infection (RR, 2.66; 95% CI, 1.21-5.88) compared with patients who were not overweight. However, patients who were obese and patients who were not overweight experienced similar 30-day (RR, 0.65; 95% CI, 0.34-1.27), 1-year (RR, 0.56; 95% CI, 0.29-1.10), and 5-year mortality rates (RR, 0.91; 95% CI, 0.66-1.25). Results for patients who were overweight were consistent with those of patients who were obese.


Patients who are obese are not at a greater risk of early and late mortality after CABG compared with patients who are not overweight, although they appear to have a lower risk of re-operation for bleeding and a greater risk of deep sternal wound infection. Therefore, obesity per se is not a contraindication for CABG.

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