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Cardiology Research and Practice
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 615987, 15 pages
Review Article

Postoperative Arrhythmias after Cardiac Surgery: Incidence, Risk Factors, and Therapeutic Management

IRCCS Ospedale San Raffaele, Università Vita-Salute San Raffaele, Via Olgettina 60, 20132 Milan, Italy

Received 12 August 2013; Accepted 16 October 2013; Published 6 January 2014

Academic Editor: Frans Leenen

Copyright © 2014 Giovanni Peretto et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Arrhythmias are a known complication after cardiac surgery and represent a major cause of morbidity, increased length of hospital stay, and economic costs. However, little is known about incidence, risk factors, and treatment of early postoperative arrhythmias. Both tachyarrhythmias and bradyarrhythmias can present in the postoperative period. In this setting, atrial fibrillation is the most common heart rhythm disorder. Postoperative atrial fibrillation is often self-limiting, but it may require anticoagulation therapy and either a rate or rhythm control strategy. However, ventricular arrhythmias and conduction disturbances can also occur. Sustained ventricular arrhythmias in the recovery period after cardiac surgery may warrant acute treatment and long-term preventive strategy in the absence of reversible causes. Transient bradyarrhythmias may be managed with temporary pacing wires placed at surgery, but significant and persistent atrioventricular block or sinus node dysfunction can occur with the need for permanent pacing. We provide a complete and updated review about mechanisms, risk factors, and treatment strategies for the main postoperative arrhythmias.