Computer Analysis Could Prevent Strokes

ORLANDO – A surgical team from the University of Central Florida and Arnold Palmer Hospital in Orlando thinks they have found a way to decrease the risk for stroke in patients with mechanical heart pumps. Researchers used computer simulation to figure out that the angle the pumps are inserted into the heart makes a big difference in the risk for blood clots, which may cause stroke. The findings were presented at a major gathering for surgeons in Washington, DC last week.

If you’re a fan of Grey’s Anatomy, you may recall Denny – a character who died of a stroke after doctors removed his mechanical heart pump to make way for a new heart. Well, he wouldn’t have had this problem, if his surgeons had perhaps positioned the device at a different angle.

The implant is called a ventricular assist device. Heart disease patients use them while waiting for transplants. But patients run a high risk of complications, including blood clots, which could potentially lead to fatal strokes.

Now, Dr. William DeCampli of Arnold Palmer Hospital in Orlando thinks he has an answer to this problem : Each patient should have a computer analysis that would tell surgeons how best to redirect the blood flow, so clots stay away from the brain. [audio:|titles=DeCampli]

DeCampli said this tailoring of care would cost only a few hundred dollars more. But he said he needs to do more computer simulations and clinical trials in people before his recommendations can be put into action. [ | FPR Spot]