Aug. 10 (UPI) -- A new study suggests obese heart surgery patients need significantly more intensive care unit resources compared to patients with healthy weights.
More than one-third of American adults are obese and the estimated annual medical cost was $147 billion in 2008, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"Obesity is a growing problem for society that has reached epidemic proportions," Brandon R. Rosvall, of Dalhousie Medicine New Brunswick in Canada, said in a news release. "In our study, we saw that as patients became more obese, the hospital resources required to care for them after heart surgery also increased."
The study, published Aug. 9 in the Annals of Thoracic Surgery, found that obese heart surgery patients required additional ICU services and had a longer recovery resulting in higher costs and more labor-intensive care than non-obese patients.
Researchers analyzed data from the New Brunswick Heart Center Cardiac Surgery Database and identified 5,365 patients, 36 percent of which were classified as obese.
Results revealed that after heart surgery, patients with higher levels of obesity were four times more likely to need extra time in the ICU, three times more likely to need more time on mechanical ventilation and three times more likely to be readmitted in the ICU.
"The ICU provides a number of highly specialized services to care for patients who are seriously ill," Rosvall said. "Expensive resources including staff, medical equipment, and medication are needed to provide these services. Health care is costly, so by more efficiently using ICU resources, we can save the health care system money, while also improving overall patient care."