Canadian researchers call for more angiograms

olves injecting a patient's coronary arteries with a special dye that doctors can track, can be risky. Potential complications include heart attack, stroke, and even death.

The procedure is also expensive. Due to the related costs of angiograms, including the need for special equipment and trained personnel, the procedure is currently conducted in Alberta in just two cities: Edmonton (at the University of Alberta and Royal Alexandra Hospitals) and Calgary (at the Foothills Hospital).

"It's a challenge, because the risks and costs associated with angiograms are such that you don't want to test everyone--you only want to test patients who have the appropriate indications for the procedure. But, even still, our research shows that we need to be performing more of them to detect and save those people who are at risk," said Graham.

Graham added that Canada is about the middle of the pack among developed nations in terms of angiograms prescribed per capita (with the U.S. prescribing by far the most), so there are many other places around the world where increased use of angiograms would result in more high-risk people being detected and subsequently treated.

Graham and her colleagues in the study were able to compile their results through access to a comprehensive database managed by the Alberta Provincial Project for Outcomes Assessment in Coronary Heart disease (APPROACH) project, and a team of researchers at the U of A and the University of Calgary.

"We are uniquely positioned to do this research in Alberta thanks to the APPROACH database," said Graham. "And now we are seeing the other provinces, and even countries, follow suit and create similar databases of their own."


Contact: Ryan Smith
University of Alberta

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