Scientists at Northwestern University have developed an app that can predict your risk of cardiovascular complications following a liver transplant.
On average, 6,500 people receive liver transplants each year in the United States. Liver transplant patients are among the highest risk of developing cardiovascular complications post-surgery. Nearly 35 percent of patients will develop a serious cardiac complication within one year following their liver transplant.
For those patients, the chances of survival are much lower than people who do not experience cardiac complications after the transplant. Having a cardiovascular complication within 90 days of their transplant decreases a patient’s chance of survival by 50 percent.
This is why researchers at Northwestern University have worked so diligently to produce a new method for calculating a patient’s risk of cardiovascular complication after a liver transplant. This new method comes with an electronic app that can be accessed over the internet, which calculates the risk score of patients before undergoing surgery. This is the first technology of its kind that is liver transplant specific and it replaces older, much less reliable methods of calculation.
New method of calculating risk scores a huge asset
According to Eurekalert, “The new app and method to establish risk are called the Cardiovascular Risk in Orthotopic Liver Transplantation (CAR-OLT). It’s intended for use in those ages 18 to 75 with liver disease who are undergoing evaluation for liver transplantation.”
It was developed using a large cohort study that was performed in 2017 using cardiovascular risk in liver-transplant data. The researchers had access to 10 years of data on liver transplant patients from the database of the national Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network. The information used in the calculation of a patient’s one-year post-liver transplant cardiac complication risk score includes information on the patient’s “age, sex, race, employment status, highest education achieved, and the status of his or her liver cancer, diabetes, heart failure, atrial fibrillation and pulmonary hypertension.”
The researchers who developed the CAR-OLT method say that the old method of calculating risk scores—the revised cardiac risk index—has the same accuracy as flipping a coin. Because the risk of complications is so high with this type of surgery, it is that much more important for doctors and surgeons to be able to calculate the risk scores of patients before they undergo transplants and to be able to rely on the score their methods produce.
The fact of the matter is that donor organs are scarcely available and those that are available should be prioritized for patients who have the best chance of surviving the transplant. This new method of calculating a patient’s risk score will be a massive asset for the medical practitioners who are making those decisions.