Prognostic impact of frailty in elderly cardiac surgery patients
Over the past few decades, the progressive aging of the population combined with the resulting increase in cardiovascular disease and the marked improvement of technologies applied to surgery justify the marked increase of the elderly patients requiring cardiovascular surgery. This claims a highly skilled perioperative management, which should be aimed at treating cardiac disease without increasing risk of hospitalization-related harmful events. Current preoperative assessment for cardiac surgery, such as the European System for Cardiac Operative Risk Evaluation II (EUROSCORE II) and the Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) risk score, are limited in their ability to predict perioperative outcomes in older patients. This is because patients’ chronological age should not be considered as the only tool to identify the surgical risk. In recent years, indeed, several studies have highlighted the role of frailty syndrome in determining the prognosis of elderly patients undergoing cardiac surgery. Particularly, some functional aspects, such as gait speed seem to have a high sensitivity and specificity in this regard. Therefore, further research is needed in order not only to identify a unique, fast and easy to use tool aimed to recognize frailty syndrome, but chiefly resulting able to give us information about the effectiveness of focused preoperative interventions. Finally, we need to have scientific data on the role that surgical, percutaneous and transcatheter procedures have on outcome in elderly patients in terms of perioperative mortality, postoperative quality of life and regarding the possible reversibility of frailty. Cardiovascular surgery is to date a “moving target”, due to changing face of patients and changing face of technical requirements and perioperative management should reflect such changes.