New tool calculates risk of bleeding in heart attack patients

April 15th, 2009 - 4:24 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, April 15 (IANS) Researchers have developed a new method to estimate bleeding risk in heart attack patients which will help cut chances of this common complication.
“Until now, there hasn’t been a simple tool applicable to the general population that can predict the risk of bleeding before patients are treated for heart attack,” said Richard G. Bach, study co-author and Washington University School of Medicine (WUSM) cardiologist.

“Older methods for estimating risk either were derived from a low-bleeding-risk population or used variables that aren’t available until after treatment is begun,” he added.

Doctors treat heart attacks with medications and procedures intended to prevent ischemic complications, or damage caused by lack of oxygen to the heart.

But these treatments — anti-clotting drugs and catheter-based interventions to the heart — also increase the likelihood of bleeding, which can be deadly.

“The risk of bleeding is substantial in people with heart attacks,” said study co-author Brian F. Gage, a WUSM internist. “We found that this population could be risk-stratified, so that people at high risk of bleeding could receive less aggressive anticoagulant and anti-platelet therapy while those at low risk could receive full-dose therapy.”

Researchers analysed medical histories of more than 89,000 patients hospitalized in the US for non-ST-elevation heart attack, (specific type of heart attack closely related to unstable angina), usually results from a partial rather than complete blockage of the heart’s arteries.

The patient histories were part of the CRUSADE Quality Improvement Initiative. The CRUSADE analysis identified eight factors that could predict the odds that a heart attack patient might suffer bleeding, said a WUSM release.

The factors are gender, heart rate, blood pressure, hematocrit (the concentration of red cells in the blood), creatinine clearance (a measure of kidney function), diabetes, peripheral vascular disease or stroke, and congestive heart failure.

The study was published in the Tuesday edition of Circulation.

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