Dr. Ansar Hassan
Safer surgery for heart disease patients: Dr. Ansar Hassan tests pre- and post-op approaches to minimizing surgery risks
Cardiac surgeon Dr. Ansar Hassan and his collaborators in the Maritimes want to ensure the best possible heart surgery outcomes for patients at risk of complications. They're embarking on several large-scale research projects involving cardiac surgery patients at the New Brunswick Heart Centre and the Maritime Heart Centre.
"In the Maritimes, we carry the heaviest burden of heart disease in the country," says Dr. Hassan, an assistant professor in the Division of Cardiac Surgery at Dalhousie Medical School - Dalhousie Medicine New Brunswick (DMNB). "At the same time, we have an aging population and the highest rates of cardiac risk factors like obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure."
Advances in cardiac care mean more people are living longer with heart disease, but they also mean many patients are in their 70s and 80s by the time they need cardiac surgery. "Many patients face a very high risk of complications from surgery by the time they come to us," notes Dr. Hassan."It is our responsibility to help them understand the possible consequences and do whatever we can to improve their outcomes."
Dr. Hassan and colleagues, including Dr. Greg Hirsch and Dr. Jean-François Légaré, are developing and testing pre-operative frailty assessment and decision-making processes to ensure that frail, elderly or obese patients receive top-quality personalized care that supports their health and quality of life.
"We're developing more accurate ways to predict a patient's risk of complication, so we can choose the safest surgical approach," he says. "At the same time, my colleagues in New Brunswick and I are testing a more rigorous approach to post-surgery follow-up for patients who required two or more days in the intensive care unit." The researchers will follow these patients for a year, providing multi-disciplinary support to help them recover and function better.
The researchers will also be collecting blood and tissue samples from surgery patients for analysis by basic scientists, including Dr. Thomas Pulinilkunnil, Dr. Petra Kienesberger, and Dr. Robert Rose, to shed some light on the molecular mechanisms of frailty, obesity, diabetes and heart disease.