Improving the understanding and management of disease affecting the aorta has been the focus of lifesaving PhD research by Dr Tim Surman.
In particular, his findings will help identify patients most likely to have an emergency rupture of the aorta and address the long-term quality of life of people with aortic disease.
“The aorta is the largest artery of the body and carries blood from the heart to the circulatory system,” Dr Surman said.
“My research has improved our ways of understanding the weakest parts of the aorta so that we could predict those patients at risk of a rupture.”
Dr Surman’s PhD was funded through Australian Heart Research, thanks to your loyal donations.
Dr Surman’s findings have led to five peer-reviewed publications, completion of a PhD thesis with the University of Adelaide and important research outcomes that can impact how doctors treat patients in clinical practice.
“We also wanted to look at determining how to best manage patients having aortic valve surgery for aortic stenosis (narrowing of the heart’s aortic valve) in non-emergency situations, which is very common in the community.
“There will always be an ongoing search for the least invasive ways to perform surgery, however, less invasive does not always mean a better option from the patient’s perspective.”
Currently, there are two types of surgery to fix aortic valves, called TAVR (transcatheter aortic valve replacement) and SAVR (surgical aortic valve replacement).
“The big scientific studies out there comparing SAVR and TAVR have focused on clinical outcomes over the last 10 years, but we wanted to determine how this affected a patient’s quality of life for the long term.
“Fortunately for the community, our research found that there was significant improvement in depression, frailty and quality of life in both SAVR and TAVR groups.
“This research has further improved our understanding of how to manage patients holistically after cardiac surgery, from improving their frailty and pain, to ensuring that their mental health is optimised at a time where significant emotional stress is placed on the patient and their families.
“The funding I received from AHR made all of this research possible – I’m incredibly grateful for the donor community and their support.”