Association of Both High and Low Left Ventricular Ejection Fraction With Increased Risk After Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting

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Background: While reduced left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) is a known risk factor for complications after coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG), the relevance of higher LVEF values has not been established. Currently, most risk stratification tools consider LVEF values above a certain point as normal. However, since this does not account for insufficient ventricular filling or increased adrenergic tone, higher values may have clinical significance. To improve our understanding of this situation, we investigated the relationship of preoperative LVEF values with short- and long-term outcomes after CABG using a strategy that allowed for the identification of nonlinear relationships. We hypothesised that both higher and lower values are independently associated with increased postoperative complications and death in this population.

Methods: We performed a single-centre retrospective cohort study of patients undergoing isolated CABG surgery. All patients had a preoperative measurement of their LVEF. Surgery involving mitral valve repair was excluded in order to eliminate the impact of mitral regurgitation. The primary outcome was long-term mortality; secondary outcomes included atrial fibrillation, operative mortality, and a composite outcome including any postoperative adverse event. Fractional polynomial equations were used to model the relationship between LVEF and outcomes so we could account for nonlinear relationships if present. Adjustments for confounders were made using multivariable logistic regression and Cox models.

Results: A total of 7,932 subjects were included in the study. After adjusting for patient and surgical characteristics, LVEF remained associated with the primary outcome as well as the composite outcome of any postoperative adverse event. Both these relationships were best described by a J-shaped curve given that higher LVEF values were associated with increased risk, albeit not as high has lower values. Regarding long-term mortality, individuals with a preoperative LVEF of 60% demonstrated the longest survival. A statistically significant relationship was not found between LVEF and operative mortality or atrial fibrillation after adjustment for confounders.

Conclusions: Higher preoperative LVEF values may be associated with increased risk for patients undergoing CABG surgery. Future studies are needed to better characterise this phenotype.

Keywords: Coronary artery bypass grafting; Left ventricular ejection fraction; Postoperative adverse events.