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UC research to help with intensive cardiovascular problems

UC research to help patients with intensive cardiovascular problems

January 2, 2014

A University of Canterbury PhD student has researched a model-based method to combine the available physiological signals in hospital intensive care to understand a patient’s health, to with the aim of simplifying cardiovascular monitoring and diagnosis.

UC postgraduate student Dr James Revie, who was supervised by mechanical engineering’s Distinguished Professor Geoff Chase, applied his model-based approach to studies relating to blood clots in the lungs and inflammation of blood vessels, both common diseases in the ICU.

The method was able to accurately identify the blood volume and contractility of the heart, which are otherwise difficult to measure in a clinical environment.

``The subject-specific models were also able to track disease-dependent changes in the pigs, including an increase in obstruction of blood flow to the lungs due to lodged blood clots and how the arterial system loses its ability to maintain blood pressure during septic shock.

``I also tested using measurements from four patients recovering from heart valve surgery in the Christchurch Hospital ICU.

``In this study, the approach showed that three out of the four patients were following the clinically desirable path to recovery, increased forward blood flow and decreased pulmonary blood pressure, while the other was not reacting favourably to surgery due to compromised heart function.’’

These studies show how this modelling technique can be used to identify key metrics of cardiovascular health. These metrics can be used to provide targets for goal-directed therapies to help improve patient treatment.

``The model-based approach shows potential for use as a platform for improving cardiovascular monitoring and diagnosis in critical care in New Zealand.’’

Cardiovascular disease (heart, stroke and vascular disease) is the leading cause of mortality in New Zealand, accounting for around 40 percent of deaths annually.

Due to increasing rates of obesity and diabetes, and an aging population, cardiac and circulatory dysfunction are also major problems in the intensive care unit (ICU).

In critical care, diagnosis can be difficult as clinicians are often confronted by confusing, contradictory numerical data from a range of medical devices.

Dr Revie received his doctorate at UC’s graduation ceremony last month.


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