Preoperative Anemia and Risk for Perioperative Neurocognitive Dysfunction in Cardiac Surgery Patients: A Retrospective Analysis

Shahriar Shayan, Obianuju Okocha, Nina Srdanovic, Lauren Balmert, Jordan Grafman, Ashwin S. Madhan, Sahej S. Samra, IV Charles H. Brown, Bobbie Jean Sweitzer, Charles W. Hogue

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: To evaluate whether there is a relationship between preoperative anemia and domain-specific cognitive performance in patients undergoing cardiac surgery. Design: Retrospective analysis of data collected from a randomized study. Setting: Tertiary care university hospital. Participants: A total of 436 patients age ≥55 years undergoing cardiac surgery. Intervention: None. Measurements and Main Results: Neuropsychological testing was performed before and one month after surgery, using a standard battery. Individual Z-scores calculated from the mean and standard deviation of tests at baseline were combined into domain-specific scores. Anemia (hemoglobin <130 g/L for men, <120 g/L for women) was present in 41% of patients. Preoperative anemia had little impact on preoperative cognition. There were no differences in the change in cognitive performance one month after surgery from baseline between patients with and without preoperative anemia. However, in a sensitivity analysis using multiple imputation for missing cognitive test scores, significant associations were observed between preoperative anemia and change in postoperative processing speed (p = 0.016), change in executive function (p = 0.049), and change in fine motor speed (p = 0.016). Nadir hemoglobin during cardiopulmonary bypass, which was lower in anemic than nonanemic patients, was associated with decrements in performance on tests of verbal fluency (p = 0.007), processing speed (p = 0.042), and executive function (p = 0.10) one month after surgery but not delayed neurocognitive recovery (p = 0.06). Conclusions: Preoperative anemia may be associated with impairment of selective cognitive domains after surgery. Any effect of preoperative anemia may have on cognition after surgery might be related to lower nadir hemoglobin during cardiopulmonary bypass.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1056-1063
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of cardiothoracic and vascular anesthesia
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2022


  • Anemia
  • Cardiopulmonary bypass
  • Neurocognitive dysfunction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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