SUDBURY, ON – A cardiac surgeon at Health Sciences North presented his ground-breaking research to an international medical conference this past weekend.
Dr. Rony Atoui delivered a presentation on how the flu shot could help patients in their recovery from cardiac bypass surgery, the most common heart surgery performed worldwide. He was presenting at the 56th annual meeting of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons in New Orleans.
Dr. Atoui, who also serves as an associate professor at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, says cardiac bypass surgery is performed on patients experiencing chest pain, known as angina, and can reduce the risk of heart attack. The procedure involves bypassing a clogged vessel that feeds the heart by rerouting blood through other vessels in the body.
These patients often experience excessive inflammation following the procedure due to the significant stress placed on the body. This can lead to complications such as irregular heart rates, infections and even stroke. Doctors haven’t been able to determine a way to prevent inflammation from occurring, following the surgery. That is until Dr. Atoui conducted a study at Health Sciences North over the past year, funded by the Northern Ontario Academic Medicine Association. The study included 30 patients.
“I thought the flu shot could prove to be beneficial to these patients because it has been shown to limit inflammation in some previous studies. I also spoke to a number of my fellow physicians who have seen the flu vaccine helping patients with irregular heartbeat through this mechanism, so we thought there could be a benefit with patients who have gone through surgery,” said Dr. Atoui.
The results were quite promising. Half the case patients were given the flu vaccine, with the rest given a placebo. Those patients who received the vaccine saw lower levels of chemicals that cause inflammation in their blood, and higher levels of chemicals that fight inflammation within 48 hours of surgery.
“There is cutting edge research being performed at HSN that could have significant benefits for patients here and around the world. I was very proud to present these findings at prestigious international conferences,” said Dr. Atoui, who recently returned from presenting at another international conference hosted by the American Heart Association in Philadelphia.
While Dr. Atoui’s research is promising, it is still preliminary. Going forward, more research is required on a larger scale, in order to confirm these results and potentially change clinical practices.
Dr. Atoui’s work connects to one of the key goals in HSN’s new Strategic Plan; to strengthen the academic and research impact of the organization. One of the outcomes associated with that goal is to advance and support collaborative research efforts in cardiovascular health and healthy aging.