Photo: Colourbox 

Heart surgeons discuss how to optimise treatment – from the time the patient experiences chest pain until the patient is back home after heart surgery.

Heart surgeons and anaesthesiologists at Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark have organised an international symposium on Friday 29 April 2016 on how to optimise and refine the pathway for patients undergoing heart surgery.

- Our heart surgery procedures are of really high quality and we take good care of the patients during the operation and afterwards in the intensive care unit. But many patients could do better during surgery if we optimised their medicine before the procedure. And maybe we should focus more on how patients are doing in the first months after the operation, says Vibeke Hjortdal, professor and consultant cardiologist.

The symposium is held in connection with a PhD defence by Laura Sommer Hansen, who has studied what happens when patients who have had heart surgery leave the hospital. Her PhD project shows that despite a generally increasing and high survival following heart surgery, the patients still risk death, complications and affected functional level in the months after surgery.

Prior to the PhD defence, Aarhus University Hospital has arranged an international symposium with participation of the heart surgeon William Gaynor from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in the US. He is presenting advantages and disadvantages in use of adrenal cortical steroids to lower unintended reactions in the immunesystem after heart surgery. 

The first part of the symposium focuses on ultrasonography using small portable ultrasound transducers which can be used to examine if the patient’s heart and circulation can be optimised medically before the surgery.

An original research idea is the focus of the second part of the symposium. Simon Tilma Visitisen, PhD and associate professor, has devised a method where he uses data from ECG and blood pressure measurements in newly operated patients with heart disease to assess if patients have too little or too much fluid in the body.

The PhD project by Laura Sommer Hansen shows that the pump function in a number of patients undergoing heart surgery is reduced in the months after surgery. Some of the patients may need to have fluid removed from around the heart or the lungs or they may need to have their medicine adjusted.

- We have to make sure we identify and help these patients even after they have left the hospital. The PhD project shows that patients will improve their functional level if we follow them closer in the months after surgery, says Vibeke Hjortdal


Further information:

Vibeke Hjortdal, professor and consultant cardiologist, Department of Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery, Aarhus University Hospital, Tel.: +45 78 45 30 14 or mobile phone: +45 31 13 51 03.