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Heart bypass or angioplasty? There’s an app for that

A new online tool can help seniors with advanced heart disease decide between two possible medical interventions - Coronary Artery Bypass Graft surgery or Percutaneous Coronary Intervention, a.k.a. angioplasty.

To use the tool, seniors enter in their age, gender, diabetes status, tobacco use and heart disease history. The tool then calculates a predicted five-year survival rate, based on outcomes of similar patients who underwent these procedures. These predictions are derived from data extracted from the medical records of more than 100,000 Medicare patients, and analyzed using a model recently published in a study led by Mark Hlatky, MD, professor of health research and policy and of cardiovascular medicine at Stanford.

I had the pleasure of working with the amazing team of health researchers and programmers who developed this medical decision tool in a little under a month. For me, it was a sneak preview into the future of personalized medicine, where a person can review surgical outcomes of real-world patients with similar health histories, to reach an informed decision on a treatment plan with their physician.

“Studies usually focus on the results for the average patient, and not on how much the results vary among individuals. This model is a step towards personalizing treatment recommendations, based on each individual’s unique characteristics,” Hlatky told me. “The other exciting thing about this new methodology is that with relative ease, it can be applied to other medical conditions such as cancer and stroke.”

Hlatky will present his model and findings at the Institute of Medicine workshop “Observational Studies in a Learning Environment,” which can be viewed via a webcast on April 24-25.

Previously: Is stenting or surgery better for diabetics? New study provides answer, New test for heart disease associated with higher rates of procedures, increased spending and To stent or not to stent: not always an easy answer
Illustration by Dawn Johnson/iStock

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