Light versus heavy sedation after cardiac surgery: myocardial ischemia and the stress response. Maritime Heart Centre and Dalhousie University.


Journal Article

UNLABELLED: The influence of light versus heavy sedation after coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery on the development of postoperative myocardial ischemia has not been described. After uncomplicated CABG surgery, 50 patients were randomly assigned to receive LOW (n = 24; target Ramsay Sedation Score [RSS] = 2) or HIGH (n = 26; target RSS = 4) sedation with propofol. Analgesia was provided to maintain a visual analog scale (VAS) pain score <7. Myocardial ischemia was identified perioperatively using continuous 3-lead Holter monitoring. By measuring creatine kinase (CK) MB levels preoperatively, at entry to the intensive care unit (ICU), and every 12 h for 48 h; and by obtaining serial 12-lead electrocardiograms (ECG) (preoperatively; 2, 4, 12, 24, and 48 h after ICU admission, 8:00 AM the morning after surgery; and 5 min pre- and postextubation), myocardial infarction was identified. Endocrine stress response was assessed by measuring serum cortisol levels preoperatively, on admission to the ICU, and 24 h postoperatively. In a subset of patients (LOW n = 10, HIGH n = 11), plasma and urinary catecholamine levels were also measured. There were no between-group differences in demographics, operative course, hemodynamic variables, or cortisol levels while in the ICU. The VAS pain score and target RSS were achieved and sustained, and they differed between groups. There were three myocardial infarctions in each group by CKMB criteria alone. No ECG-identifiable myocardial infarction occurred. The ST segment versus time curve (LOW 187 +/- 295 versus HIGH 1071 +/- 2137 mm/min) differed between groups. Urinary and plasma catecholamine levels were similar between groups over the observation period. We conclude that the use of a reduced sedation regimen in combination with adequate analgesia did not result in an increased endocrine stress response or risk of myocardial ischemia. IMPLICATIONS: This randomized study of patients after coronary artery bypass surgery examined whether light (versus heavy) sedation with propofol in the intensive care unit was associated with an increased degree of myocardial ischemia. Using techniques to detect myocardial ischemia, including Holter monitoring, electrocardiogram, and myocardial enzyme measurements, no differences were found. We conclude that light sedation does not increase the endocrine stress response or the risk of myocardial infarction.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Hall, RI; MacLaren, C; Smith, MS; McIntyre, AJ; Allen, CT; Murphy, JT; Sullivan, J; Wood, J; Ali, I; Kinley, E

Published Date

  • November 1997

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 85 / 5

Start / End Page

  • 971 - 978

PubMed ID

  • 9356086

Pubmed Central ID

  • 9356086

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0003-2999

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1097/00000539-199711000-00004


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States