Sleep deprived heart surgeons get the nod in new study

    QUEBEC CITY, Oct. 22 /CNW Telbec/ - Does a bad night's sleep lead to a
bad day's operating for heart surgeons? Is there a yawning performance gap
between those who get seven hours of sleep and their less rested colleagues?
    The answers to these questions were presented today to the Canadian
Cardiovascular Congress 2007, co-hosted by the Heart and Stroke Foundation and
the Canadian Cardiovascular Society, in a research paper by cardiac surgeon
Dr. Michael Chu.
    And as a result of the research of Dr. Chu and his colleagues into the
sleeping habits of cardiac surgeons, patients everywhere can breathe a little
    "Our study showed no evidence that cardiac surgeons' sleep hours have a
negative impact on patient outcomes either during or after surgery," said
Dr. Chu.
    Dr. Beth Abramson, spokesperson for the Heart and Stroke Foundation says,
"There is a lot of pressure on cardiac surgeons, as with other cardiac
specialists. This study is a valuable contribution to the ongoing concern
about sleep deprivation among medical professionals."
    In Dr. Chu's study, surgeons marked down the hours of sleep they had the
night before as they checked in to the operating room.
    "The sleep experts say that most people will be sleep deprived if they
have less than six to seven hours a night. So we looked at two groups - those
with less than six hours sleep the night before and those with six hours or
more," said Dr. Chu. The study was performed at the University of Western
Ontario between January 2004 and March 2007.
    The outcomes of 1,892 consecutive patients who received coronary artery
bypass, valve, combined bypass-valve and aortic surgery were studied and were
correlated with the hours of sleep logged by the surgeons.
    The outcomes investigated included death or any of the 10 major
complications occurring during or after cardiac surgery, including
neurological complications, low cardiac output, cardiac arrest, irregular
heart rhythms, kidney failure, infection, need for reoperation, serious
bleeding, lung failure and having a heart attack during surgery.
    "We found in our study that the sleep-deprived surgeons performed with
the same ability to achieve excellent outcomes as those with adequate amounts
of sleep. When we looked at a particularly high risk group of patients, again,
there was no difference in the surgical outcomes. That was good news for us
and our patients," said Dr. Chu.
    Dr. Chu speculates that if a surgeon for some reason was not performing
at 100 per cent, other members of the surgical team play an important role and
certainly may compensate. "Surgery is all about teamwork," he noted. "We only
looked at the surgeons, but the rest of the team including anaesthesiologists,
intensivists, residents, surgical assistants, nurses and other health
professionals all play a critical role within the team."
    How surgical teams work together to ensure the best outcomes for patients
may be the subject of a future study by Dr. Chu.

    Statements and conclusions of study authors are solely those of the study
authors and do not necessarily reflect Foundation policy or position. The
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada makes no representation or warranty as
to their accuracy or reliability.

    The Heart and Stroke Foundation (, a
volunteer-based health charity, leads in eliminating heart disease and stroke
and reducing their impact through the advancement of research and its
application, the promotion of healthy living, and advocacy.

For further information:

For further information: and/or interviews: CCC 2007 MEDIA OFFICE, (418)
649-5215 (Oct 21-24); Marie-Christine Garon, Massy-Forget Public Relations,
(514) 842-2455 ext. 23,; Congress information and media
registration at; After October 24, 2007, contact:
Jane-Diane Fraser, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, (613) 569-4361 ext

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