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Heart Surgery & AIDS
Aug 17, 2002

My triple bypass surgery was delayed for three weeks because the surgeon said that I wasn't strong enough physically. I am currently UD and CD4's are over 500. Surgeon was concerned because I was 5 to 7 pounds uderweight. He also said that my HIV status automatically makes my surgery more complicated and a higher risk to me. At this point in time, I must admit that I'm not only a little depressed, I'm also confused. Does my HIV status automatically make the outcome of my heart surgery less optimistic? The surgeon (who has an excellent reputation) seemed rather concerned, in general. What do you think? I'm not asking for predictions , I'd just like to know any observations you may have.

Response from Ms. Fields-Gardner

Just the fact that you are underweight makes your surgery a bit riskier. Surgery challenges the immune system without HIV infection. HIV infection is a chronic inflammatory disease and can complicate surgery because of a greater risk for opportunistic infection. This does not mean that you can't have surgery, just that you should be as prepared for surgery as possible. Part of that is regaining your lost weight and making sure that you have plenty of body cell mass (the important part of lean tissues to withstand the injury that surgery introduces).

You may want to see a dietitian to help you make your plan to make your body weight and composition optimal prior to surgery. Best wishes!


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