Stroke After Surgery, Everything To Be Aware Of

Henry Hoffman
Monday, August 21st, 2017
Last modified on September 13th, 2022

Guidelines to Flying After Stroke, Flying After a Stroke, Fly Stroke

Without a doubt, surgeries following serious health issues have shown major results in improving a survivor’s quality of life. For those who suffer from heart conditions, forms of cancer, and even joint pain, a variety of operations can offer great recovery possibilities, but these procedures can also have their fair share of complications in the process.

What is important for all patients to know is that having surgery leaves one vulnerable to a range of health concerns, and suffering from a possible stroke is one of them. Especially for surgeries involving the heart, the odds of having a stroke afterward are considerable, whereas surgeries that are not cardiac have been related to decreases in strokes. Learning about a patient’s susceptibility under both circumstances can provide better understanding of and preparation for any health issues that you or a loved one may face.


After Cardiac Surgery

Between 1.7 and 4.6 percent of patients will experience a stroke, with exactly 60 percent of those cases exhibiting signs of a stroke directly after an operation. These statistics are comprised from a variety of patients, but many studies have concluded that there are several components to look out for as main contributors.

First off, patients between the ages of 50 and 65 show strong correlations to strokes after surgery. This is because demographics within this age range show higher signs of cardiovascular disease, obesity, and joint pain. For those who are above the age of 65, the risk of having a stroke after cardiac surgery is also increased because these patients will most likely require heart surgery at some point in the near future, automatically exposing them to potential issues.

If age is not a primary factor, other conditions such as histories of heart disease, atrial fibrillations, cerebrovascular disease, and cardiopulmonary disease serve as valid predispositions. While the odds of experiencing a stroke after cardiac surgery are more common, non-cardiac surgeries have proven to show notable difficulties as well.

After Non-Cardiac Surgery

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), from 2004 to 2013 the percentage of patients who experienced Major Adverse Cardiovascular and Cerebrovascular Events (MACCE) after non-cardiac surgery lowered from 3.1 to 2.6 percent. This is due to a decrease in the number of deaths during surgery, as well as a decline in cases dealing with acute heart attacks; however, ischemic stroke attacks during surgery rose from 0.52 to 0.77 percent within those same years. That’s a relatively small increase, but it’s still worth exploring what’s behind it.

Thrombotic or Embolic Strokes

To try to explain this increase, you must examine the process of cardiothoracic surgery (operations done to any organs within the chest) and their relationship to ischemic strokes. The American Heart Association classifies an ischemic stroke into two categories: Thrombotic or Embolic. A Thrombotic stroke is caused by a blood clot (thrombus) that forms within an artery and then travels to the brain, where it cuts off blood flow. An Embolic stroke is a clot that wanders (Embolic) away from the heart or neck arteries through the bloodstream and eventually blocks a blood vessel within or connected to the brain. Considering that both types of stroke begin with clots formed elsewhere in the body, a correlation can be made that cardiothoracic surgeries have the potential to dislodge blood clots from their origin, causing them to lodge in other locations.

Mechanical Thrombectomy

The slow rise from 2004 to 2013 in ischemic strokes could also be considered as manageable on account of the success pertaining to an operation known as a Mechanical Thrombectomy. A Mechanical Thrombectomy is a procedure that removes a blood clot from the blocked artery or blood vessel in the brain using a small plastic tube that is threaded through the body. Inserted into an artery near the groin, the plastic tube is installed with a stent that opens at the end and takes hold of the blood clot at the site. The stent is then removed along with the blood clot, hopefully alleviating any symptoms.

Whether a surgery consists of cardiac or non-cardiac related organs, a stroke has the potential to surface.

Migraines After Surgery

Migraine After Surgery, Headaches After Surgery, Headache After Surgery

There is also a condition that a patient may have a history of suffering from that acts as a good indicator of their susceptibility to a stroke: migraine.

In a study completed by the British Medical Journal, patients with a history of migraines are more prone to suffer an ischemic stroke during surgery. In addition to this finding, patients with a history of migraines with aura (a migraine with the addition of visual disturbance, also known as an ocular migraine) are even more prone to stroke. Keep in mind, for every 1,000 patients who undergo surgery, only 2.4 of them will experience an ischemic stroke, and that number increases to 3.9 for those with a history of migraines and 6.3 for those with migraines with aura.  

In addition, studies have shown that patients suffering from migraines are twice as likely to be readmitted to the hospital for stroke and gastrointestinal related issues than those without a history of migraines. If you or a loved one suffer from migraines, make sure to include them as a condition in your medical profile so that a doctor can take this into consideration and prepare accordingly.

Be Aware of Possible Complications

Possible Complications After Surgery, Stroke After Surgery

As beneficial as cardiac or non-cardiac surgeries may be, there is still a certain amount of risk that should be considered when it comes to the possibility of a stroke.

The statistics in both cases suggest that an individual try their best to maintain a healthy lifestyle in order to avoid any of these complications. A stroke is a potential outcome after these operations, but major health issues—MACCE, obesity, joint pain, organ-related impairments—serve as the foundation for strokes to arise. To ensure that you or a loved one’s next surgical procedure is successful, be sure to familiarize yourself with these conditions and possible outcomes. If you feel that you may be at risk prior to surgery, speak with a healthcare professional to determine the best possible solution. To learn about methods of stroke treatment outside of surgery continue reading here.

All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. Reliance on any information provided by the Saebo website is solely at your own risk.

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