Dr. Ansar Hassan

Dr. Ansar Hassan

Dr. Ansar Hassan

Cardiovascular

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 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."

To this effect, Dr. Hassan and colleagues are collaborating to create a biobank that will allow for the collection of tissue and blood samples from patients undergoing cardiac procedures.

These samples will allow basic scientists such as Dr. Thomas Pulinilkunnil and Dr. Petra Kienesberger to perform sophisticated analyses and gain inferences regarding disease processes at the molecular level.

This will complement the work that we are already carrying out at the population health and epidemiology level and provide us with insight into how care for the frail, elderly or obese patients may be improved and personalized to each patient. "We're developing more accurate ways to predict a patient's risk of complication, so we can choose the safest surgical approach," he says.

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