Keeping the Kidneys Safe After Heart Procedures

The heart is a wonderful organ, but as we age it often needs maintenance. Once such procedure is known as a Percutaneous Coronary Intervention, which involves the insertion of a catheter into one the heart’s blood vessels. While a highly useful procedure, PCIs can result in acute kidney injuries, or AKIs for short. A new model might help doctors predict the risk of such injuries following these procedures. 

Number Crunching 

This model was created by a team of researchers, led by contributors from Yale University. Publishing their work in the November 2019 issue of JAMA Network Open, the study authors found that they could better predict AKIs using this new tool. Essentially, this mathematical model works as a sort of artificial intelligence, allowing doctors to gauge a patient’s risk of kidney injury following a PCI procedure. 

One issue with PCIs (which are also commonly referred to as angioplasties) stems from the use of contrast agents. These substances allow medical professionals to better identify blood vessels during the procedure. Unfortunately, some people react poorly to such chemicals, experiencing issues with their kidneys soon afterwards. 

A Big Upgrade 

In a Yale University Press release, senior author Chenxi Huang explained the need for a better type of AKI risk model. “We determined that their associations with the risk of kidney injury are quite complex. The range of contrast levels you’re considering matters, and the baseline risk level for a particular patient matters, too.” 

This new model isn’t the first to be used to determine AKI risk amongst those scheduled to undergo angioplasties. However, based on the results of the study, the researchers contend it should prove more effective than previous models. With a better understanding of the patient’s body, doctors will be able to more accurately determine how much contrast material can be used during PCIs, thereby reducing the likelihood of kidney problems.

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