If patients who are scheduled for heart surgery were given a short walking test, this would be predictive of postop delirium, says a report in The Annals of Thoracic Surgery.
How far can the patient walk in six minutes?
The distance walked (not the speed involved) is very telling as to whether or not the patient will develop delirium after their heart surgery.
Another name for this delirium is postoperative cognitive dysfunction (POCD) and is much more common among the elderly.
How the Study Was Done
• 181 patients who were scheduled for non-emergency heart surgery were identified.
• The surgeries were scheduled at Nagoya University Hospital between March 2014 and August 2015.
• Average age was 71.4 years.
• Patients performed the walk test upon admission to the hospital.
• They walked a predetermined course, attempting to cover as much distance as possible in six minutes.
• A low six minute walking distance was an associated risk factor for postop delirium. There was an inverse relationship between lowness of the 6MWD and likelihood of postop delirium.
Prehab, not just Rehab
People who undergo heart surgery follow it up with rehabilitation.
But if the surgery is elective rather than emergent, they have time for prehabilitation: making the body as fit as possible during the time leading up to the operation.
This means more exercise and nutritional improvements, along with education about the procedure.
Walking sessions every day can be part of this prehab, even if the sessions last only five minutes – because five-minute segments can be done multiple times throughout the day.
Any walking done during shopping trips should not be included, as this degree of walking has already been built into the patient’s baseline! It’s a constant, not a variable.
A variable is needed for people to raise their level of fitness.
The patient must go above baseline: scheduled time slots for walking exercise that they normally would not have done.
Pedaling exercise is also a good prehab tool, or even a light group aerobics class – whatever they could handle. Strength training will also help.
Patients for heart surgery should discuss with their physician about any kind of restrictions for exercise.
The fitter one’s body is through exercise, the less likely there will be complications from heart surgery.
If you’re not sure how to start an exercise program for prehab, you may want to consider a personal trainer for several sessions.