Reducing the risk of stroke, heart problems after surgery

There’s new hope on the horizon for people undergoing surgery.

Researchers from the University of Sydney and Westmead Hospital have been awarded $1.8 million to advance research into reducing the risk of stroke and heart complications in patients undergoing major surgery.

Many Australians have major surgery each year, and about 3 per cent develop atrial fibrillation (AF), an irregular and often very rapid heart rhythm that can lead to blood clots and increase the risk of stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications.

Current research shows that anticoagulation, more commonly known as blood thinners, can reduce stroke risk in people with established AF.

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The research team, led by Professor Clara Chow, will explore the development of AF following major surgery and determine whether blood thinners will improve health outcomes and decrease the risk of stroke.

The research is funded through the Australian government’s Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF).

“We know that these medications can reduce stroke risk in people with established AF, but it is unclear whether AF brought on by surgery can be treated in the same way,” Prof. Chow says.

“This research is likely to have a direct impact on clinical guidelines and how we treat patients in the future.

“We are pleased to be partnering with collaborators in Canada and Denmark on this international study.”

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As well as being the academic director of the Westmead Applied Research Centre, Prof. Chow is also academic co-director of the Charles Perkins Centre at Westmead and clinical lead, community-based cardiac services, also at Westmead.

Professor Robyn Ward, executive dean and pro vice-chancellor medicine and health said: “We are very proud of the calibre of our cardiovascular research at the University of Sydney. Projects like this are leading the way in improving health outcomes for Australians.”

The $20 billion MRFF is a long-term, sustainable investment in Australian health and medical research, helping to improve lives, build the economy and contribute to the sustainability of the health system, which ensures a guaranteed funding stream to support Australia’s best and brightest health researchers.

This article was originally published by the University of Sydney and is republished with permission.

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