Patients whose coronary arteries are damaged or blocked are recommended to undergo heart bypass surgery so more blood and oxygen can flow to the heart again.
Findings of a new study, however, has shown an increased risk for complications after heart surgery for individuals whose body mass index (BMI) is greater than 40, or more than 100 pounds greater than their ideal body weight.
Researchers have found that severe obesity was associated with higher likelihood for developing an infection soon after the surgery. Severely obese patients also tend to stay longer in the hospital compared with normal-weight patients.
For the study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association on June 1, researchers looked at the data of over 7,500 individuals who underwent coronary artery bypass surgery between the years 2003 and 2014.
They found that severely obese patients were three times more likely to develop an infection after surgery compared with their counterparts with normal weight.
Severely obese individuals were also 56 percent more likely to suffer from complications within the month of the surgery and spend one day more on average in the hospital.
"BMI ≥40.0 was an independent risk factor for longer length of stay, and infection was a potentially modifiable risk factor," the researchers wrote in their study.
"Greater perioperative attention and intervention to control the risks associated with infection and length of stay in patients with BMI ≥40.0 may improve patient care quality and efficiency."
The duration of stay was also found to be thrice longer for severely obese patients who also have diabetes compared with patients without diabetes and of normal weight.
The researchers said that the findings show a need for attentive care in patients who have diabetes.
"We know that wound healing in general is affected by poorly controlled glucose levels, and that adipose (fat) tissue may take longer to recover from trauma," said study researcher Mary Forhan, from the University of Alberta.
"Therefore, as is recommended for all patients, efforts to ensure good glycemic control for patients with diabetes pre- and post-bypass are important."
Almost 400,000 individuals in the U.S. undergo coronary artery bypass each year.
Severe cardiac inflammation commonly occurs immediately following a heart bypass surgery but an earlier study published in the Annals of Thoracic Surgery suggests that taking the cholesterol lowering drug statin prior to a heart bypass surgery can lower risk for complications and even death.