Preoperative anemia is common in cardiac surgery, yet there were limited data describing the role of sex in the associations between anemia and clinical outcomes. Understanding these relationships may guide preoperative optimization efforts.
This is an observational cohort study of adults undergoing isolated coronary artery bypass grafting or single- or double-valve surgery from 2008 to 2018 at a large tertiary medical center. Multivariable regression assessed the associations between preoperative hemoglobin concentrations and a primary outcome of postoperative acute kidney injury (AKI) and secondary outcomes of perioperative red blood cell (RBC) transfusion, reoperation, vascular complications (ie, stroke, pulmonary embolism, and myocardial infarction), and hospital length of stay (LOS). Each outcome was a single regression model, using interaction terms to assess sex-specific associations between hemoglobin and outcome.
A total of 4117 patients were included (57% men). Linear splines with sex-specific knots (13 g/dL in women and 14 g/dL in men) provided the best overall fit for preoperative hemoglobin and outcome relationships. In women, each 1 g/dL decrease in hemoglobin <13 g/dL was associated with increased odds of AKI (odds ratio = 1.49; 95% confidence interval [CI], [1.23-1.81]; P < .001), and there was no significant association between hemoglobin per 1 g/dL >13 g/dL and AKI (0.90 [0.56-1.45]; P = .67). The association between hemoglobin and AKI in men did not meet statistical significance (1.10 [0.99-1.22]; P = .076, per 1 g/dL decrease <14 g/dL; 1.00 [0.79-1.26]; P = .98 for hemoglobin per 1 g/dL >14 g/dL). In women, lower preoperative hemoglobin (per 1 g/dL decrease <13 g/dL) was associated with increased odds of RBC transfusion (2.90 [2.33-3.60]; P < .001), reoperation (1.27 [1.11-1.45]; P < .001) and a longer hospital LOS (multiplicative increase in geometric mean 1.05 [1.03-1.07]; P < .001). In men, preoperative hemoglobin (per 1 g/dL decrease <14 g/dL) was associated with increased odds of perioperative RBCs (2.56 [2.27-2.88]; P < .001) and longer hospital LOS (multiplicative increase in geometric mean 1.02 [1.01-1.04] days; P < .001) but not reoperation (0.94 [0.85-1.04]; P = .256). Preoperative hemoglobin per 1 g/dL >13 g/dL in women and 14 g/dL in men were associated with lower odds of RBCs transfusion (0.57 [0.47-0.69]; P < .001 and 0.74 [0.60-0.91]; P = .005, respectively).
Preoperative anemia was associated with inferior clinical outcomes after cardiac surgery. The associations between hemoglobin and outcomes were distinct for women and men, with different spline knot points identified (13 and 14 g/dL, respectively). Clinicians should consider data-driven approaches to determine preoperative hemoglobin values associated with increasing risk for adverse perioperative outcomes across sexes.