Dr. Kevin Boczar at CCC – The Prediction of Future Thoracic Aortic Aneurysms

This weekend, I had the opportunity to present
my research with Dr. Coutinho here at the CCC. Our research is primarily focused on
thoracic aortic aneurysms (TAA), or T-A-As. And what that is, is it is essentially when
the big blood vessel that comes off the heart balloons out. It’s quite a scary condition
for patients in that it can be associated with a lot of morbidity, in that ballooning
out of the blood vessel can rupture, but for patients there can be no symptoms. They don’t
really know if their disease is progressing or not. As clinicians, and as physicians,
caring for patients with thoracic aortic aneurysms, the only clinical predictor of risk that we
have to rely on is the size of the aneurysm. And unfortunately, what we’ve seen through
research is that the majority of patients who present with their aneurysm expanding
or rupturing, is that those aneurysm sizes are actually smaller than the cut-offs that
we use to guide those patients toward intervention. So we need to come up with a better way to
help decide which patients are at high risk and which patients are not. Our research looks
at using a non-invasive measure of aortic stiffness, so looking at the stiffness of
the blood vessel, to determine which aneurysms are at high risk of rupturing and which are
not. Our findings show that we can use this non-invasive measure, which is simple to do,
it’s cheap to perform, and can even be done in the out-patient setting. We can use this
tool to help risk stratify these patients. I was very fortunate to be selected as the
second-place finisher for the Trainee Research Award in the Clinical Division. I’m very humbled
to be selected for that award. You know, watching the presentations yesterday, the strength
of research across Canada is, you know, super high, so I am very excited and honoured to
be selected for that award. It just really goes to show that the Heart Institute is kind
of at the forefront of research.