Why Hamilton researchers say a simple blood test can predict post-surgery complications

PJ Devereaux, director of cardiology at McMaster University says a simple protein could be measured to detect patients who may be at risk for heart damage after non-cardiac surgery. Hamilton Health Sciences

Researchers at McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences say they’ve created a simple blood test that can predict major heart-related complications after surgery.

The VISION study looked at 22,000 patients, aged 45 and older, from 13 countries.

The new Canadian research shows that 18 per cent of the group sustained heart damage within 30 days of non-cardiac surgery.

Around 93 per cent of cases went undetected but measuring a certain protein in the blood could change that, study lead Dr. P.J. Devereaux explained.

“It basically tells us that at a certain threshold that we were able to establish in this large international study, heart injury is happening,” he said.

Devereaux said by recognizing certain levels of the protein — called high-sensitivity troponin — doctors can intervene faster. There are treatment options and medication available.

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“Research supports that basic interventions like cholesterol drugs, like statins, Aspirin and ACE inhibitors have the potential to help these patients.”

He added, “if we can identify early that a patient is having a heart injury we can step up that monitoring of those patients and then get them seen by a cardiologist or internist.”

The test has already been implemented in Hamilton and is being promoted as a useful tool both nationally and internationally.

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