There is no consensus on which drugs/techniques/strategies can affect mortality in the perioperative period of cardiac surgery. With the aim of identifying these measures, and suggesting measures for prioritized future investigation we performed the first International Consensus Conference on this topic. The consensus was a continuous international internet-based process with a final meeting on 28 June 2010 in Milan at the Vita-Salute University. Participants included 340 cardiac anesthesiologists, cardiac surgeons, and cardiologists from 65 countries all over the world. A comprehensive literature review was performed to identify topics that subsequently generated position statements for discussion, voting, and ranking. Of the 17 major topics with a documented mortality effect, seven were subsequently excluded after further evaluation due to concerns about clinical applicability and/or study methodology. The following topics are documented as reducing mortality: administration of insulin, levosimendan, volatile anesthetics, statins, chronic β-blockade, early aspirin therapy, the use of pre-operative intra-aortic balloon counterpulsation, and referral to high-volume centers. The following are documented as increasing mortality: administration of aprotinin and aged red blood cell transfusion. These interventions were classified according to the level of evidence and effect on mortality and a position statement was generated. This International Consensus Conference has identified the non-surgical interventions that merit urgent study to achieve further reductions in mortality after cardiac surgery: insulin, intra-aortic balloon counterpulsation, levosimendan, volatile anesthetics, statins, chronic β-blockade, early aspirin therapy, and referral to high-volume centers. The use of aprotinin and aged red blood cells may result in increased mortality.
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