New test for heart surgery patients

Researchers in Aberdeen have launched a study to see whether a new blood test can better predict the outcome for patients facing heart surgery.

Cardiac surgery is very commonly performed in the UK and is associated with a small risk to the patient. Usually the benefits very much outweigh the risks that surgery can bring.

However, doctors are always investigating ways of minimising risks to patients, but the methods of predicting actual outcome for individual patients undergoing heart surgery are not particularly well developed.

Now the British Heart Foundation (BHF) has awarded the University of Aberdeen £127,534 to carry out a study into a blood test which it is hoped will give a better idea of the prognosis of a patient facing coronary artery bypass surgery.

Dr Brian Cuthbertson, Clinical Senior Lecturer within the University’s Unit of Anaesthesia and Intensive Care, said: “We hope our study will show that this test is clinically useful and has benefits to our patients.

“If we can predict more accurately the risks of surgery it will help clinicians and patients make a more informed choice about the risk of surgery. For example, it could be that a decision is taken to postpone surgery so a patient’s health can be improved before surgery actually takes place.”

Iain Lowis, Director of the British Heart Foundation in Scotland, said: “We are delighted that such an important and potentially life-saving research project is being funded by the BHF at the University of Aberdeen, adding as it does to almost £1.5 million of heart research that we are already supporting in the city.”

The test would be in the form of a simple blood sample from a patient which would monitor a hormone called B-type natriuretic peptide, which is produced in the heart in response to stress and volume load, and which is a sensitive marker of heart injury and dysfunction.

Researchers would test for levels of B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) as they believe these could act as a predictor of outcome in cardiac surgery.

Around 1,000 patients are expected to be recruited onto the study which will run over three years.

Dr Cuthbertson added: “People who are being prepared for cardiac surgery or presented for cardiac surgery in Aberdeen will be asked whether they would like to get involved. It is a simple observational study.”


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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